I know it’s not very Christmassy but I can’t stop thinking about murder. It’s not because I’ve just been in an M&S tussle, passive-aggressively battling with a lady in a goose-down gilet for the last filo pastry parcel selection and hoping she burns the turkey and/or dies. Horribly. And gets decapitated. And her head gets stuffed inside the turkey and they don’t find it until they finish pulling the meat from the bones five days after Christmas because it’s a really fucking big turkey and then, boom, oh Christ – Judith’s skull. No. It’s because I have been watching Dexter. That series about an American serial killer that everyone was banging on about years ago.
I don’t usually watch much stuff, but every now and then I get pulled down the rabbit-hole of a major series and everything else stops existing. Usually about a decade after everyone else has watched it. I like to think it’s because I’m an individual who doesn’t get swept along with the tide but it’s actually because I’m in a bit of a daze most of the time and it takes ten years to get me to go “Huh? Sorry, what were you saying in 2006?” So I finally succumbed to watching an episode of Dexter after lots of mates told me they liked it – grand recommendations like “Dexter saved me from a life of bunny-hugging benevolent optimism and opened my eyes to the innate evil in the world”, “We actually thought about naming LouLouBelle Dexter. But then her little winky dropped off and we realised it was just a bit of ham”, and “Dexter shits all over everything”, which as a plot descriptor is alarming but as an idiom of general enthusiasm can’t be bettered.
Anyway, one short sesh in bed down and I was hooked on this dirty Miami cop epic.
Last Christmas it was Breaking Bad. There I was, propping my eyes open until the wee small hours of the morning because I had to watch Just One More. Waking in the morning with a jump because I had had feverish dreams about shit going down at the meth factory and I simply had to watch the next episode to make sure everything was ok. I needed to know that the meth was ok and that Walter White was ok; that he hadn’t got arrested while I had been irresponsibly sleeping on the job in my real life. I annihilated the entire lot in about two weeks. It became a bit of a problem. I was a bit blinky and distracted and real life felt fake and Breaking Bad world felt real. I haven’t really watched much since then. I would’ve felt cheap, cheating on Walter so soon after our emotional goodbye. Plus I had stuff to do. You can’t put your life on hold for crystal meth, things get out of hand.
But now I’m hooked on Dexter and everything’s turned to murder. I cannot look at a bin-bag without assuming my neighbours are wronguns. “Bet there’s some dude’s fingers in that Dolmio jar”, I size up as I pass. I pass an alleyway and assume that in the shadows are some muscly Cubans with a grudge. I hear the theme music in my head, all the time, and can feel my spine prickle like a psychic hedgehog; I know that something killy is about to go down nearby. But it’s not the same as Dexter. Murder fantasies in Southend are a bit more like Danny Dyer Goes to the Seaside. More likely to get suffocated with a sausage roll than splayed on a beach in a ritualistic Santa Muerte glory kill with hispanic candles neatly arranged around your decapitated noggin. Murders are dead exotic in Miami. Sigh.
I’ve found the most worrying thing about being addicted to Dexter is not that you are prepared to forego urinating for eight hours until you’ve finished a season, but that you start caring for Dexter himself. You go on a journey with the characters that far exceeds anything that can be achieved by a two hour film and you start to absorb parts of it. Moral quandary ahoy. Because you want him to get away with it all. The murders. You can’t bear the thought of him getting caught and spending the rest of his life on Death Row. I mean, that’s not right is it? That’s pretty clever telly. Making a psychopath the hero; inciting you to care about someone who ends people’s lives. Making you think “Well, it’s only a bit of stabbing, hacking, chopping, and dumping the body in the sea. People do way worse in goosedown gilets in shopping queues at Christmas.” We are very murky creatures, us humans. No wonder we get ourselves in such pickles.
I’m not sure what I’ll do when it’s over. I probably won’t kill anyone. I don’t think. I might just rest my eyes for a year until the next big series drags me down the rabbit hole. Maybe think about watching something less stabby. But it’ll take me a while to stop thinking about killing in the meantime so, er, make a list and I’ll see what I can do. I’m sure there’s such a thing as Netflix Induced Murder Immunity, there must be.