Stern-Dunyak, BuddyTV Fan Columnist, talks about family. This time, mothers . If you're interested in writing about
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A lot has been said about how daddy issues dominated Dexter this year
. But let's talk about the flipside--the (lack of) mommy issues. Is Dexter
, nominally a black comedy/thriller about a serial killer, secretly about the virtues of the traditional family? Think about it--for want of a few loving mothers, many of the show's characters suffer or make others suffer.
Father-child issues aren't new to the Morgan family. Heck, Dexter's dad is dead, but still wants to be his dad. Fortunately for Ghost Harry, Dex usually welcomes his father's advice. Sister Deborah Morgan tried so hard to please Harry that she joined the police force, a job that's nearly gotten her killed several times. She fell in love with a man (Frank Lundy) old enough to be her father (not very subtle). Dex's long-lost brother Bryan--AKA the Ice Truck Killer--never forgave Harry for saving Dexter but not him. Bryan almost killed both Deb and Dex over his "issues."
This season, "Trinity Killer," Arthur Mitchell, beats his son, abuses his daughter, and probably killed his own father. Christine Hill, Arthur's oldest daughter, witnessed her father commit murder as a child. He then messed with her head by saying she dreamed it all. But did she reject him? No, because this family isn't exactly playing with a sane deck. She killed Frank and shot Deb to protect Arthur from the police.
Instead of being grateful, Arthur told Christine he wished she'd never been born. Driven to desperation, Christine confessed her crimes to Deb while preparing to shoot herself. But even in her final moments, she withheld Arthur's name from Deb. The detective still thinks the real Trinity was Stan Beaudry, a man set up by Dexter to appear guilty.
So where are all the mothers? Dexter can't remember his mother, Laura Moser, one of Harry's criminal informants. Deb's mother died several years back and given Harry's influence, it's not clear what impression the departed Mrs. Morgan had. Deb is now obsessed with proving Harry had affairs with his CIs. (I expect a big reveal about Laura in this Sunday's season finale.)
Arthur Mitchell's mom inspired part of his tangled web of murder. Meanwhile, Arthur has terrorized his wife so much that she can't protect her own children (though they love her). Christine's mother is a complete mystery, but she clearly wasn't around enough to keep her daughter off the socio-path. Would a strong, loving mother have helped some of these people live normal lives?
Only Rita Morgan, whose own witchy mother is no prize, sticks around enough to positively influence her kids' lives. Yes, she married two damaged men (first the late Paul, an addict and abuser, and now Dexter, the serial-killer-turned-family man). But even though she can be annoying, she loves her children and is trying to make a life for them. And so far, the kids are all right.
I'm not sure the show is saying that any mom is better than no mom. But on Dexter, the characters with absent moms certainly suffer the most.
-Alison Stern-Dunyak, BuddyTV Fan Columnist
(Image courtesy of Showtime)