PaleyFest, the major cultural event that opened in Los Angeles on Friday, allowed the public to get a closer look at the producers and stars of the most successful American television series, including “Homeland.”
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The confab's opening panel on “Homeland,” which is based on the Israeli series “Hatufim,” attracted particular media buzz thanks to the details that the participants revealed about the fifth season of the show, and the heated discussion over whether the threat posed by the militant Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, should feature during the season (spoiler alert).
As "Homeland" has progressed, the series has lost some of its shine in the eyes of critics, but managed to reinvent itself with a surprising if not uniform fourth series. That season ended with a controversial episode that in essence set aside the sweeping action that had built up in the preceding episodes, and instead depicted the family drama involving Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes) and her mother, and the romantic drama between Mathison and Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend). In the final scene, Carrie reveals that Saul (Mandy Patinkin) is prepared to allow the biggest terrorist portrayed during the season to remain alive, on condition that Saul returns to the helm of the CIA.
Series creator and executive producer Alex Gansa revealed at PaleyFest that following the events of that last episode, viewers of “Homeland” next September will find Carrie having left the CIA. When Danes was asked at the conference what Carrie was doing instead, she joked that she was making homemade beer.
Gansa also disclosed that the fifth season would be shot in Europe (apparently in Germany) and that the story line would skip ahead two and a half years from where the prior season left off.
Since “Homeland” has dealt since its first season with the terrorist threat to the American people, one of the panel’s topics focused on ISIS, whose brutal operatives have beheaded Westerners taken captive in recent months as it has conquered swaths of Iraq and Syria. Gansa said ISIS would not have a substantial role during the show's upcoming season, explaining that militant group was too cruel for the series and that it is very difficult to endow its members with qualities that would enable the audience to understand their motives.
Gansa noted that the show is constantly attempting to respond to current political trends and takes this responsibility very seriously, citing efforts to credibly portray the lives of such characters as Abu Nazir and even Chris Brody and Haissam Haqqani, so viewers understand them. But that is not the case with ISIS, due to organization’s excessive brutality. Gansa added that he is also not sure it is worth giving the organization a television platform that would try in any way to show its human side.