Leading up to the premiere of “Homeland” Season 4, Zap2it is running a series of articles from a lengthy interview with showrunner Alex Gansa as the Showtime series prepares for its most important season yet. In this third piece, Gansa reveals how “Homeland” remains topical season after season.
When “Homeland” returns for its fourth season, viewers will find that the problems Carrie Mathison, Saul Berenson and Peter Quinn are dealing with are ones that are timely with the discussions going on in American politics and foreign affairs.
In the season premiere, Carrie issues a drone strike that ends up killing civilians, which ties into discussions over the moral and ethical problems of the American military using drones to attack terrorists. Similarly the central characters on “Homeland” find themselves some of the last CIA agents on the ground as America organizes its extraction plan from the Middle East, just like is currently — sort of
— taking place in the United States.
“‘Homeland’ finds itself in a very unique position in terms of shows on television in that we’re able — or we’re saddled with the responsibility — to provide some comment on what’s happening nowadays in a very dangerous world, and we obviously have to be very careful about how we go about doing that,” showrunner Alex Gansa explains to Zap2it. “It’s the source of a lot of conversations in the story room.”
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It’s a responsibility that weighs heavy on the shoulders of Gansa and his team, but one he thinks is important that they carry. “After these recent beheadings
of these journalists in Syria and Iraq, it’s just … the world is a very complicated and tricky place,” he says. “It’s dangerous to wade into those issues, but at the same time we feel a responsibility to do something about it or to talk about it or to dramatize it or to ask questions about it. That’s part of the cool thing about working on this show.”
To prepare for each season, Gansa and the “Homeland” writers head to Washington D.C. for a week or so to meet with current and former members of the government. They speak with “a parade of current and former intelligence officers, current and former State Department people, current and former journalists” to “really try to get a sense of what people in the halls of power are talking about.” It’s from those concerns and issues and discussions of “hot spots of the world” that they determine the true-to-life issues their characters will deal with.
“This year when we went to go to talk to everybody it was all about the American draw down in Afghanistan and the murky relationship the United States has with Pakistan,” Gansa explains. “That’s all anybody wanted to talk about, so that informs this season because that’s all we heard about when they were there for a week.”
Gansa says that the high-stakes world “Homeland” viewers will find Carrie Mathison in as “the drone queen” during the two-hour Season 4 premiere is an accurate, albeit fictionalized, version of American policy on the ground in Afghanistan.
“Our military’s going to be out of [Afghanistan] presumably by December — maybe completely out of there by December — and the people left on the ground are going to be State Department and intelligence officers, and the Afghani security forces,” he says. “It is the military and the CIA’s goal right now to kill as many bad guys on the border as they can to give those Afghani security forces a chance at fighting the Taliban once the Americans draw down. [Carrie’s] doing a very specific job, and she’s doing it very well.”
“Homeland” premieres its first two Season 4 episodes on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.