I could see what drew my son to 'Dexter,' a series about a guy who feels like he’s wearing a disguise so he can pass as normal in a world where he struggles to connect with others.
by Frank South
"Somehow it's reassuring knowing I'm not the only one pretending to be normal."
- Dexter Morgan from Dexter Episode # 105, Writer: Melissa Rosenberg
As you may know, in our family I am, of course, ADHD, and so are our two kids. That’s everyone except my wife Margaret, and Danny-Boy the dog. And we’re not too sure about him.
How Margaret deals with all of us is some kind of miracle that you’d have to ask her about. But just because she’s not ADHD, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have crazy ideas: for instance -- this summer’s travel extravaganza.
Okay, I thought it was a good idea too, but I am officially, doctor-certified crazy, so I have an excuse. Anyway, after a particularly stressful spring, Margaret and I decided to push the envelope of our mental and financial endurance this summer and spread the whole family all over the map -- physically, emotionally, and maybe psychically too.
Three of us have been all over the mainland -- me in L.A., where I did my show and stayed with family friends for two months, my wife and daughter on a road trip reconnecting with relatives in Georgia, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware (where they met up with me at my parents’ house for the Fourth of July) while our son house-sat with our dog and went through his own interior journeys with alcohol and responsibility.
In the end, Margaret’s plans all turned out great, but toward the end of the travels, everybody’s nerves were frayed and we were all exhausted and well, touchy. Or maybe it was just me.
I got back to Hawaii and to our son, Harry, two weeks before my wife and our daughter, Coco. So Harry and I spent a couple of weeks getting the house cleaned up for their return and talking. I was, as I’ve said, on edge and wanted to get some things talked out with my son, but I couldn’t find a way that didn’t fray my nerves worse than they were and make Harry pull away and shut down.
Then finally, we talked about something else to talk about what I wanted to talk about -- his growing up, our relationship, his friends, his life goals and things like that. The conversational duck-blind we used was Dexter, a TV show he’s passionate about. During our two weeks alone he showed me all the episodes he’d saved, and during this Dexter marathon I began to see what attracted my ADHD son so strongly to the show.
Harry had been on me for over a year to watch this show with him, but I resisted. My god, the hero of the show is a serial killer. Nearly every week someone gets butchered by this guy. He pointed out that I read tons of thrillers and murder mysteries. But I said they don’t glorify violence like that, and besides they’re books. Books are better than TV. Well, in this case, he was right and I was wrong. Every once in a while being wrong happens to a parent -- admitting it is the hardest part.
But like I said, I could see what drew Harry to this series about a guy who feels like he’s wearing a disguise so he can pass as being normal in a world where he struggles to find real connections to others. He identified with him, and as we watched, I identified too.
Yes, Dexter definitely is way out there, but the character is struggling constantly with questions of morality, right and wrong, and the responsibilities of love. So, episode after episode, night after night of this very bloody TV horror show, Harry and I found a way to communicate about him, his life, and on a different level -- but just as frightening -- the horror of growing up.