Hard to believe that Dexter first premiered ten years ago! It's not as though this is one of those series that you'll stumble across and not have at least some idea what it's about. You might, but the odds are you at least saw advertisements for the show during its eight-season run from 2006 to 2013. Because I did not have a subscription to Showtime, those ads served as little more than a tease. But I never forgot my interest in this series about a serial killer who hunts down and kills other murderers.
As a result of the wide availability of TV series on DVD and Blu Ray, but particularly since the rise of online streaming services, the art of binge-watching has allowed for many to revisit old favorites. More importantly, it allows for the discovery of new favorites. I make it a point each New Year’s to seek out a new one to explore. Showtime’s #Dexter, which I finally caught onto in early 2014, still ranks as my most significant discovery. In honor of the show's 10th anniversary (officially celebrated earlier this year), here are eight reasons why you should binge-watch Dexter.
8. The Later Seasons Are Better Than Most Fans Say That They Are
There are those that will argue the point that Dexter suffers a dip in quality once you get past Season Four. That one was a tough act to follow, but it doesn't mean that what came after was not at least worthy of attention. Season Five, in particular, was enjoyable because it brings Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) back to the basics while still offering new challenges for him to overcome. Where the series finally runs out of steam is during its eighth and final season, somewhere around three episodes from the end. Until then, it's one of the most fantastic television dramas ever conceived.
7. Creative Kills
Blood spatter analyst by day, vigilante/serial killer by night, Dexter Morgan racks up an impressive body count as he takes out one murderer after another. In so doing, Dexter has a ritual he follows, but it's the little differences that keep things interesting. He never settles on one specific weapon of choice. So, while a simple knife to the chest will suffice, sometimes the occasion will call for a chainsaw, a power drill, or a hammer. The show's best kills, however, are saved for people other than Dexter.
6. Daniel Licht's Music
In addition to at times possessing a certain Cuban flavor, Daniel Licht's soundtrack to Dexter also can serve as an almost calming counterpoint to the violence depicted on-screen. Several tracks can be heard throughout the show's run, such as "Astor's Birthday Party," "Hide Your Tears," "Escalate," and the track which closes out each episode: "Blood Theme."
5. Witty Dialogue
Each episode of Dexter contains at least one line of dialogue which will tickle your funny bone. I was hooked from basically the opening scene, with the title character's emotionless, matter-of-fact analysis of the world he pretends to participate in. Vince Masuka's (C.S. Lee) dirty mind constantly challenges your threshold for sexual humor. Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter)'s own colorful language gets more and more creative as time goes on. My own personal favorite is her response to the news that her brother is going to be a father.
4. A Detailed Backstory
As interesting as what's going on in the present day are the hints and flashbacks to what came before, to the events that nudged Dexter Morgan along the path that led him to become the man he would be. Chief among these was the blocked memory of the day in 1973 when he witnessed his mother's murder and was left sitting in a pool of her blood at the age of three. Though this event was the most relevant to the main storyline of the first season, its impact would continue to be felt throughout the remainder of the series, especially as more and more people were made aware of what happened and Dexter's connection to it.
3. Incredibly Effective Villains
You can't have a great protagonist without a compelling villain, and Dexter managed to handle this consistently throughout its run, from the Ice Truck Killer from Season One right up until the Brain Surgeon from Season Eight. It's debatable as to which season is the best overall (I'd probably go with Season One), but you'd be hard-pressed to make an argument against Arthur Mitchell (a.k.a. the Trinity Killer) being the series' best villain.
John Lithgow has been known for both comedic and villainous roles during the course of his long career. But there's nothing funny about Arthur Mitchell. As mentally traumatized by the death of a family member as Dexter was, Arthur jumps from frightened man-child to cold-blooded killer in the blink of an eye, with an icy cold stare to match... one that's the stuff of nightmares.
2. The Getaway
The show had many, many brilliant episodes. But the finest hour of Dexter was saved for its fourth season finale, "The Getaway." Dexter's obsession with making the Trinity Killer his latest victim had already proven to be akin to poking a hornet's nest with a sharp stick. But by the time of the finale, everything had begun to completely unravel. Additionally, keeping his family safe was also becoming an issue. A side story involving Debra looking into her father's past also produced certain earth-shattering results. It all culminates with a final scene that changes the nature of the series forever.
1. Dexter and Debra
When it all comes down to it, the core of what makes Dexter so vastly entertaining is the relationship between Dexter and his foster sister, Debra. He's closer to her than anyone, and yet still must keep his darkest secret hidden from her in fear that the truth would destroy her. Actors Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter are without question the most vital ingredients in the show's makeup, for without them in these roles it couldn't possibly have worked half as well as it did. Anyone who has seen the show can agree that we are all thankful for their casting.
What is your favorite thing about Dexter?