On Dexter

The Scientist and the Serial Killer

A Study in Work-Life Balance

By Morrie Mullins

“Dexter Morgan: Blood tech, husband, father, serial killer . . . Which one are you?”
–Harry Morgan, “Hello, Dexter Morgan” (4-11)

Life is complicated. Every day, we juggle demands from bosses, coworkers, friends, family, and neighbors. Everyone wants something, and they want it now–or sooner, if possible. Our task is to figure out how to balance all of these demands. How do we keep our work and non-work lives separate? Is it even possible?

Work-life issues have been an increasing area of interest for psychologists over the past few decades. In 2004, a theme of the American Psychological Association’s annual conference was the interface of work and family. Issues of how people manage their increasingly busy and over-scheduled lives have only become more central to the field, and with the huge numbers of families in which parents are trying to manage dual careers, raising children, and being members of their community, that shows no sign of changing.

Enter Dexter Morgan. At work, Dexter is a quiet lab tech with the Miami Metropolitan Police Department, a pleasant-if-eccentric analyst of blood spatter. He gets along with his coworkers (for the most part), doesn’t make a lot of noise, and is good at his job. At home, Dexter has a different role. He hunts and kills criminals that the system is unable to bring to justice, dismembering them, dumping them in the ocean, and retaining only a collection of blood slides as mementos. These two lives–the scientist and the serial killer–have to coexist. Like all  …

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