PEOPLE's TV critic wonders why Showtime's Homeland was shut out

By TV Critic Tom Gliatto
December 14, 2011 05:50 PM
Credit: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME

What is this, a conspiracy?

Showtime’s spy thriller Homeland, which I picked as my No. 1 show for 2011 in PEOPLE’s year-end issue (and which is a pretty safe bet to dominate top-10 lists elsewhere), is homeless – at least when it comes to the Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, announced Wednesday. (President Barack Obama, in the same issue of PEOPLE, reveals that the show is a favorite of his, as well. Just saying …)

The show, renewed for a second season, wouldn’t work if it weren’t for the tense gamesmanship and sexual chemistry of Claire Danes, as a CIA analyst, and Damian Lewis, as a former POW whose life intersects suspiciously with a circle of Middle East terrorists. And yet neither is up for the award.

I can see why Lewis might not get a nomination: He’s required to play many of his scenes with a minimalist blankness, and an air of inscrutability doesn’t usually lead to a shower of prizes. Lewis may also be at a disadvantage because he’s replaced his own British accent with a believable but nonspecific “American” one. If he survives into season 2, he should come back Southern.

But the failure to give a nomination to Claire Danes – who won a SAG award last year for HBO’s Temple Grandin – just seems weird. If Lewis’s Nicholas Brody is a walking question mark, Danes’s Carrie Mathison is a walking !?@#. By which I mean she’s a complicated piece of assemblage that always seems on the verge of springing apart.

Carrie, we learn, is bipolar, and not always good at taking her medications or taking precautions to keep her equilibrium from being disturbed. She is shrill, underhanded, impetuous, uncooperative and awkward, both physically and socially. Danes could have gotten away with playing Carrie more sympathetically, something more like nominee Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Leigh Johnson on The Closer. That she’s made Carrie so abrasive seems like a measure of principle.

So she and Lewis will have nothing to show come the SAG awards ceremony Jan. 29. But there are always the Golden Globes (to be announced Dec. 15), and then the Emmys.

For all of PEOPLE TV Critic Tom Gliatto’s shows of the year, pick up the special year-end double issue, on newsstands now