In The Know

‘Homeland’ in the Trump era tackles the ‘deep state’

Each year, the team behind “Homeland” takes a weeklong research field trip to Washington to prep for the espionage thriller’s upcoming season. But this time around, when Showtime’s crew touched down in D.C. two months after President Trump’s inauguration, the mood was different.

“There was a lot of saber-rattling going on in North Korea, and there was a lot of concern about the new administration, and people were frankly and evidently nervous,” Alex Gansa, “Homeland’s” showrunner, tells ITK.

In preparation for production, the “Homeland” team started asking what recourse intelligence officers and National Security Agency workers had if “they see an administration going off the rails.” 

Gansa says he found “there was a strange sort of new alliance that was taking place between the intelligence community and the fourth estate, which we found interesting.”

{mosads}The thriller’s seventh season, premiering Sunday, lands former CIA operative Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes, back in Washington to confront the country’s fictional new commander in chief, President Elizabeth Keane. Following an assassination attempt, Keane, played by Elizabeth Marvel, begins to run an increasingly paranoid administration.

The political thriller’s head honcho says although “Keane is not Trump and Trump is not Keane,” the two “share similar issues.”

“I don’t believe we’d be telling the story in Washington, D.C., if Hillary Clinton had been elected president,” says Gansa.

Asked what Trump might take away from this season, Gansa replies, “I doubt he’d learn one thing. I think he might be amused just to watch an administration convinced that there was something called the ‘deep state’ aligned against her. Clearly that’s a fear that the Trump administration feels every day.”

While former President Obama was known to be a “Homeland” fan, Gansa says he hasn’t heard whether cable news-loving Trump has tuned in.

But Gansa says try as any TV series might, these days, no show can compare to reality.

“I was watching the news last night and flicking between MSNBC, Fox, and CNN, and I thought to myself that President Trump never won an Emmy for ‘The Apprentice,’ but he should be winning an Emmy now,” Gansa says. “It is riveting television now.”

“You cannot compete with what’s happening in the real world and you shouldn’t really try.”

“Homeland” isn’t going head-to-head with the specific issues of 2018, but “is commenting on the real world in some way,” explains Gansa.

“That entire week in D.C. convinced us that we should keep telling the story that we started telling in 2006 and just continue that one more year,” he says.

“Our mission this year is to feel relevant in the current political landscape,” he says.

But is the Emmy Award-winning producer concerned that even loyal “Homeland” junkies might find themselves simply OD’d on politics or anything related to dysfunction in Washington?

 “I wouldn’t call it concern. I would call it terror,” Gansa says with a laugh. “People may be saturated. I certainly am.”

“Hopefully the story that we told for six seasons and the characters that we created compel people to see where we are this year,” he says. “That’s the mark with any television show.”

Tags deep state Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Homeland Showtime
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