Homeland series blog – Series 2 Episode 8 – I’ll Fly Away

Some actors get stuck playing the same part their entire lives. Not so Claire Danes. She may be as mopey and whiney as she ever was in My So-Called Life, but national security is at least a more pressing concern than whether things will ever work out with Jordan. But here’s the admission: I don’t think much of Carrie.

Behind Danes’s awards-courting performance, Carrie doesn’t do much more than listen to jazz. The caring family, constant advice that sleep is the best medicine and quick, self-perpetuating descent whenever the meds run out show the writers have done their homework, but Carrie isn’t recognisable.

Jérôme Ferrari’s recent novel Where I Left My Soul also addresses the nature of fighting an insurgent threat: how men can find themselves on both sides of the same conflict and the price they pay for their actions. He describes the process of guilt: “Every morning the shame of being oneself must be discovered anew. But, before this, the grace of a secret respite is granted.â€? Nothing in Homeland’s constant cogitation has matched that simple truth.

Anyone who’s ever known a manic depressive will know that it is so much more than the fits of obsession and the swings from high to low. You are looking at someone whose very self has a fault running through its heart. It’s the source of their illness, but also often of great strength: sufferers of bipolar disorder are often high achievers.

Look at the number of high profile individuals who have suffered from the disease: Stephen Fry, Carrie Fisher, Russell Brand, Graham Greene, Jeremy Brett, Ben Stiller, Spike Milligan, Kurt Cobain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mike Tyson, Tony Slattery: hell, even Beethoven might’ve had it. And that’s before we begin contemplating all those whose drive has led them to excel in areas which don’t bring them into the public eye.

The fault at the heart of the manic depressive can make them throw endless blame on themselves, but it can also fill them with confidence: a drive to disprove their own low opinion of themselves. I have seen that in people, but I do not see it in Carrie. Give Danes an award if you want, but you’re highlighting the mass ignorance of a very complex disease, not promoting its understanding.

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