On Dexter

For the Love of Dexter

By Bella DePaulo

Dexter may well be one of the most psychologically delicious treats in television history. We love Dexter. We root for him, season after season.

But he’s a killer–a serial killer! Why do we relish Dexter so much? And why don’t we at least feel guilty about our love? Is it because Dex is so unlike us that we don’t worry others might misinterpret our interest in him as a sign of our own darkness? Or is the dynamic something much different–that we all have a wisp of Dex’s Dark Passenger within us? As fans who identify with our twisted hero, do we get to let our own demons out to play an hour a week, knowing that it’s not for real and no one will actually get hurt?

I’ve tried to talk about Dexter to all sorts of people. Some I just know will be interested. They are the people who read true crime books and watch other murder-filled movies and TV shows. What stuns me, though, is when I discover, time and again, that Dexter has resonated with people who simply don’t fit that mold. What is it about the hero and the show that is so powerful?

Dexter is a feast for the psychologically-minded. Watching him, we realize–maybe in a way we never have before–what makes us human. We all feel things. We read other people effortlessly and intuitively. We reach out to fellow humans. We want to connect  …

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