On Dexter

Denial and Rita

Women, Power, and "Getting Caught"

By Tamara McClintock Greenberg

Dexter is a story of a serial killer with sociopathic tendencies (as he is not entirely void of feeling connected to others, as a true sociopath would be) whose main challenge is living in society while struggling to conceal both his destructive impulses and his acts of brutal murder. One of the “hooks” that draws us to and keeps us enmeshed in the series is the way we viewers are able to connect with Dexter Morgan. It keeps us watching and rooting, even for behaviors that most of us can’t realistically identify with. Dexter’s getting away with murder is something we become very invested in.

Though it might not seem obvious at first, Rita, Dexter’s main love interest throughout most of the first four seasons, was also concerned with “getting away with it,” at least in a psychological sense, as she often seemed to be trying to get away from something: her own aggressive impulses.

There is much that can be said about Rita. She, and her relationship with Dexter, sometimes seemed like just a prop to help Dexter hide behind the mask of normality that he wishes to portray. But the story of Rita herself was much more nuanced. We saw her develop from a battered woman to a confident wife and mother, all the while managing her own, though frequently repressed, anger at injustice. We saw her get mad, get even, and then emerge as a complicated woman who struggled with the traps and triumphs known to many  …

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