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Like most of the English-speaking, TV watching world, I am currently hooked to the strangely addictive Homeland, an espionage drama currently on air during weekdays, at the most inconvenient hour of 11 pm on Star World. I went to great lengths to procure the Season 2 DVDs, and binge viewed all the episodes in two days flat till its explosive finale. (No spoilers here, except that Season 2 is even better than 1.) For the uninitiated, Homeland is about a war hero, who's returned home after eight years and who, the CIA suspects, may have turned hostile while in captivity. It's also as much about its head case heroine Carrie and her messy, see-sawing romantic relationship with Brody.
Because, everybody loves a good, old-fashioned love story and no TV show can survive without a complicated romantic angle. These days, the more improbable and torturous, the better. In my opinion, the days of the mushy Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan romances that follow the tried and trusted formula of hate-acceptance-love are well and truly over. Most of the ones released in the last two years have had tepid receptions: think This Means War and The Ugly Truth. It's Valentine's Day week and that in itself is peculiarly insignificant this year, lost in the larger debate of individual freedom and gender parity in India. As the arguments surrounding equality of the sexes get shriller, it's interesting to see what kind of romances are most fascinating in popular culture right now. I'm afraid I have no Indian references since there's not one male character on a Hindi show that I can watch without changing the channel in precisely 30 seconds. With the sole exception of Amitabh Bachchan on Kaun Banega Crorepati, they all seem to be ghastly metrosexuals, clad in over embroidered kurtas and presiding over one meaningless domestic squabble after another. Brody, on the other hand, in Homeland, is inherently flawed, a weak-willed, emotional nitwit who can't make up his mind and is drawn to a hysterical, pill-popping adversary. The show, if it has a gender message at all, is the rise of androgyny or something extremely confusing, since Carrie is more like a man and Brody like a woman. Still, however impossible, I'd love to see them walk into the sunset at the end of the series, whenever that might be. And I hope it's not soon.