Friday, February 24, 2017

Amatonormativity in Dexter

[Spoiler warning for the Dexter TV Show, season 6.]

And today's prompt.
Write about your experience with the amanormativity we’re all subjected to. Amanormativity, for those who don’t know, is a societal expectation that forming an exclusive, central, amorous relationship is a universal goal. Did it affect you a lot growing up, is it something you’ve just begun to experience or notice a lot, or does it affect your life in any way at all? What are some of the things that really bother you about this? How does this manifest in the expectations the people in your life have on you? Feel free to use this prompt as a means of venting.
Probably one of the most annoying experiences with amatonormativity for me is in fiction. I'm so sick of seeing shoehorned romances destroy otherwise interesting character dynamics. And even when they don't do this, the fans do!

The worst example I've seen is in the Dexter TV show (which focuses on a vigilante serial killer named Dexter). To me, Dexter and his sister Debra's bond was one of my favourite things about the show. The idea of two siblings (well, adoptive, but so what?) cohabiting, hanging out, helping each other, and basically being closer to each other than to everyone else really appealed to me. It really reminded me of my brother and I, even though our personalities are nothing like those two.

But in season 6, they ruined it. Debra was seeing a counsellor for something work-related, and her counsellor started commenting on how much she mentions Dexter. It seemed like a bizarre reaction, and a sign that something was wrong with the counsellor. She kept pressing Debra to say how she felt about her brother, and Debra kept responding that he was her brother. And then, towards the end of season 6, she confessed to having romantic feelings for Dexter.

And it was completely unnecessary to the plot! Debra goes to tell Dexter how she feels, and catches him in the act of killing. And then season 7 completely ignores Debra's attraction and focuses on her dealing with knowing that Dexter is a killer, and trying to get him to stop killing. The most interesting plot twist they had, and they had to drag this irrelevant and frankly disgusting (sorry, I draw the line at incest!) romantic attraction into it for no reason?

The only explanation I can think of is that they thought that a sibling bond wouldn't be enough to explain her covering for him. Which is the worst part, in my opinion - that they devalued the sibling bond so much, they had to tack on a romantic bond to try to explain a sister trying to protect her serial killer brother! It really brought home to me that they thought the sibling bond couldn't be as close as a romantic bond, which is amatonormativity is action.

So thanks, amatonormativity, for ruining a cool show.

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