The sadistic sanctuary of Showtime’s “Dexter”

Nick Glunt

With four full seasons of gruesome drama under its belt, Showtime’s premier television series “Dexter” grabbed my attention and kept a firm grip. In fact, I watched the entire first season in a single day last year over the Labor Day weekend. It’s 12 hours long.

For those who have never seen the show, the series’ protagonist, Dexter Morgan, played by Michael C. Hall, is a serial killer whose modus operandi is a little different than most real killers.

Dexter straps his victims to a table with plastic wrap and explains to them exactly why they deserve to die. Next, he chops them up into very specific pieces and dumps their body parts into the ocean off Miami’s coast.

So why does Dexter make a good enough protagonist to make the series Showtime’s most watched?

It’s all because of Dexter’s ethics. His adoptive father, a police officer, recognized Dexter’s need to kill. Rather than placing him an asylum, he taught the boy to only kill murderers, most which avoided police custody. Thus, Dexter becomes a sort of vigilante, cleaning scum from the streets of Miami.

But he’s still a killer.

I like “Dexter” because of the show’s different take on serial killers. It’s creative and engaging. However, if I think too much about the show and my fondness toward a serial killer, I start to feel a little guilty.

Which leads me to my question: Why is violence so attractive?

Just look at the horror movies we watch. Film series like “Friday the 13th,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and even the more recent “Saw” series feature gory, sadistic murder as a primary plot device. The term “torture porn” has even been applied to the genre for obvious reasons.

Sure, it’s disgusting. When we think about murderers, most of us get a little jittery. When we cut ourselves or see blood, most of us cringe.

I think the reason we watch is to see how everything plays out. We all want the killer to be captured by the end, for everything to end up the way it should be.

But that’s why I like “Dexter.” While Dexter is a killer, he’s not dangerous to anyone innocent. He’s the one setting everything straight, keeping everyone safe. Or at least he tries, which is more than most of us can say.

Nick Glunt is a senior magazine journalism major for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at