Interesting premise, fun twists, and just enough unrealism to work
I have to thank my brother for introducing me to this series. I'm not a big TV viewer, so I certainly wouldn't have found it on my own. The show basically has two premises, which in turn makes it fit into two genres. Premise 1, the one on the face of show, is the idea that Dexter is basically a blood spatter analyst working with the police by day, and a Serial Killer Killer by night. Dexter essentially has to snoop around, find out who the killers are and what they're up to, and get to them without tipping them off, lest he create bigger problems, or put the life of himself or anyone else in danger. Sometimes he has to match wits with particularly intelligent killers who are very hard to catch, some of whom learn his identity and try to kill him first. This leads directly into premise 2, which concerns Dexter as a human being. Despite being physically fit and looking and acting generally like an everyday guy, he is actually a very disturbed individual who has difficulty relating to other people and understanding social situations. He often says wrong things or misreads people horribly, and unintentionally creates friction. As in any good story that mixes Slice Of Life with the unusual, the two are not separated from each other. Dexter has to sneak out to deal with a killer, hide a body, etc., and this creates problems in his family or raises suspicions. Likewise, his activities affect the somewhat morbid and sometimes detached view he takes of the world and people's behavior. The two are vital parts of the man and make him what he is, and he, in turn, largely makes the series what it is. If there's any criticisms I have, I guess I could say that the show gets a little corny and melodramatic in some silly ways. Dexter's frequent conversations with the "ghost" of his dad just get on my nerves. They happen too much, in my opinion. And much of the dialog is corny, almost cartoonish at times. But, to quote James Rolfe in his review of Batman Begins, "there's a limit to how seriously this can be taken". A cop by day who kills killers by night is slightly silly, if you think about it, so the corniness in the dialog and the at-times amusing supporting cast probably work to the show's advantage, to keep it fun. There's genuine character drama, but the show doesn't take itself totally seriously. As a result, it works.