Why would CBS dare put such a show on broadcast TV? Why would CBS affiliates who care for one minute about "community standards" saturate their community with it? Dexter is not an "antihero." He's a complete psychopath, a negation of humanity, a walking black hole. But they find the whole specter to be an opportunity for cuteness: Pin the phony smile on the killer. The viewer is encouraged to see the world through Dexter's blank eyes; to share his smirky contempt for his clueless police co-workers as he buys the office donuts; to enjoy him playing a judgmental God as he saws into his guilty victims while they're still alive.
There is no dispute. The show is meant to cause sympathy for a serial killer. Showtime's Web site links to praise from a blogger running a site called "Die, Funny, Die" who quickly allows that the show makes the killer sympathetic and yet recommends: "If you can get through all the blood and darkness that clouds the mind (without throwing up), you might actually be able to see the same thing that I do: the living, beating heart of a dedicated artist."
The "artists" who make this program cynically paint a canvas in human blood. They are poster boys and girls for a Culture of Death, a culture that revels in murder, wallows in blood, giggles at gore. CBS and Showtime are giddily sledding down a slippery slope to a pit where evil is glamorized with an ironic wink.
Showtime boss Robert Greenblatt boasted about his show being "exposed" on CBS. "I think it will be very compatible with their lineup as well as be a great opportunity to promote our brand on a platform that reaches every home in America." CBS ought to take that "compatibility" as an insult and consider that "brand" a stain. But they are kissing cousins in the dysfunctional corporate family named "CBS."
It almost makes you wonder if CBS is playing its own sick game, seeing how depraved a show can be and still be praised by the slavish marionettes in the cultural elites. In its first go-round on Showtime, most TV critics fell all over themselves to see who loved the "fiendishly intelligent" vehicle more. Will they stop at nothing? Is there any new low they won't hallow as artistry?