Humor Magazine

Dexter’s Latest Victim

By Dianelaneyfitzpatrick

Dexter teaser

My obsessive-combustive personality disorder reared its ugly head this past week. I discovered, began to like, began to love, fell hard for, sold my soul for, then had to break up with the show Dexter, all in four short days.

Much like that wacky serial killer himself, I have these uncontrollable phases that I go through. When I’m doing puzzles, I keep a Sudoku in my purse, the Sunday New York Times magazine in my nightstand, and a Kukuro in my desk drawer. You never know when you’re going to have an extra 45 seconds to figure out the factors of 86 in four numbers with only one repetition. When I read, I can plow through a 350-page novel in two days, then pick up the next one like a chain smoker. When I’m in an organizing phase, I make myself cross-eyed from looking at the computer screen for so long, cataloging my pictures in iPhoto, I cover the dining room table with recipes to be put into folders, and my underwear drawer could meet military code.

Thanks to instant Netflix, I can now add TV watching to my list of obsessive phases. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, when I was honing my compulsions, it was kind of hard to get hooked on a TV show, when you had to wait an entire week for another commercial-ridden few minutes.  And then they’d follow the cliffhanger with a summer break. These were years when we cooked meals, washed our clothes and dishes, and put on deodorant.

Not the case now with me and Dexter. I don’t know why it took me so long to discover this show. I love serial killers, I’m fascinated by complicated, flawed but likable characters, and I adore the quirky. Also I like TV shows that don’t acknowledge boundaries, that don’t follow the rules and take unpredictability to a new level of badass. Last week, having just come off of a Peaky Blinders bender I was looking around for another binge-watch opportunity to feed my addiction and I dipped my pinky toe into Season 1: Episode 1 of Dexter. Ninety six hours later, I had the attention span the size of an eye booger. 

I also began to lose sense of my own reality. The show was taking up so much of my time that I began to identify with it a little too much. That’s good and bad. Good, because none of my problems seemed anywhere near as bad as Dexter’s. It’s kind of hard to get too stressed out about the marks in the wood floors in the study or the fact that the dog has been sick for a week from eating a cheese plate, when you’re comparing that to a guy who slipped out of your Saran Wrap and is bleeding all over a warehouse with the cops right around the corner.

I knew I was over-identifying with Dexter’s sister Deb when I was walking to the Cable Car Museum and saw a crowd gathered around someone who had seemingly been hit by a truck. I hesitated around the cop cars and almost – almost – went up and said, “Morgan. Homicide. Whatta we got?” I like Deb. A lot. But I’ve got to stop dropping F bombs around FBI agents – I mean – around store cashiers.

Thankfully, Dexter and I had a fight mid-Season 5, which makes the inevitable end of the relationship much easier to bear. I got really mad at him for making the babysitter stay all night that night. He comes in at dawn, saying, “Sorry I’m late” and that sweet woman, who couldn’t have been working for him for more than a couple of days, responded like an angel with an Irish brogue. Doesn’t he know a thing about being a dad of a toddler? You can’t just stay out all night and expect the babysitter to continue to put up with you. And then he takes the baby to work and asks Deb to take him home with her while she takes a nap. She’s not going to be able to get any quality sleep. Don’t you know anything? 

After that, I spent the whole time watching the show worrying about what time it was and who was in charge of Harrison. How long has he been out? Everyone else is leaving work, it must be around 5 . . . what time did he say he’d be home? Wait, he’s going over to the old house with food for effing Lumen? And now it’s light out? What the f— I wished I was friends with Deb in real life. I would call her and commiserate and release some of this foul language I now have building up inside me.

That’s when I saw the flaw in this show. It’s supposed to be about a serial killer in the guise of a normal everyday guy. Using the Good Fellas technique of creating a character we can all relate to because in between whacks and coke deals, he’s gotta Make the Sauce, the Dexter writers apparently have never been responsible for an 18-month-old. You can’t get anything done. And I don’t mean you can’t carry on a strange unsexual-tension relationship with a rape victim or have a hobby that requires sneaking out in the middle of the night to plunge knives in their chests and chop up their bodies and dump the pieces in the ocean. I mean you can’t even have the boat you use to dispose of the body parts. You can’t have any hobbies. You can’t have a job with unpredictable hours. You can’t drive to Tampa to kill that guy; shoot, you can’t drive anywhere. You have a child. Plus the car seat is in your mini-van.

I’m still watching the show and will most likely forge ahead through Season 8 and I understand that at some point Dexter realizes his parental shortcomings and f– – messes – that up too. But some of the fun is gone, now that I’m no longer able to just enjoy a good blood spatter, because I’m tracking the care and feeding of a small child again. I did that already. This is supposed to be my time to enjoy TV shows about death and dismemberment.

I know this dad/murderer dichotomy is part of the bones of the show, but for a lifelong mom, it’s a distraction. I guess it’s asking too much for the writers to have some fabulous live-in nanny drop in his lap, or get his hours cut to part-time, or start job-sharing with another psycho.

But then it wouldn’t be Dexter anymore. It would just be a Florida Monk.

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Read more of Diane’s Just Humor Me columns hereSign up for our weekly e-newsletter to get new blog post notifications. And if you like her blog, you’ll love her book, Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

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