Back when Paleyfest had just started, we reported some big changes coming in the next season of Homeland. The biggest being Carrie Mathison’s absence from the intelligence game. You can Google the character right now and see any number of articles calling her the show’s biggest problem (a position formerly held by Brody until…well).
The surprising part here is that fans of the show won’t be the only ones happy to see Mathison gone from the CIA. Apparently the real CIA is pretty thrilled to see the change too:
The agency retweeted Maureen Dowd’s column on the subject, complete with it’s headline “Good Riddance, Carrie Mathison.” The piece details how a lot of women at the CIA are tired of how they’re represented in Hollywood:
The C.I.A. sisterhood is fed up with the flock of fictional C.I.A. women in movies and on TV who guzzle alcohol as they bed hop and drone drop, acting crazed and emotional, sleeping with terrorists and seducing assets.
“The problem is that they portray most women in such a one-dimensional way; whatever the character flaw is, that’s all they are,” said Gina Bennett, a slender, thoughtful mother of five who has been an analyst in the Counterterrorism Center over the course of 25 years and who first began sounding the alarm about Osama bin Laden back in 1993.
“It can leave a very distinct understanding of women at the agency — how we function, how we relate to men, how we engage in national security — that is pretty off,” Bennett said. She was sitting in a conference room at Langley decorated with photos of a memorial for the seven C.I.A. officers — including Bennett’s close friend Jennifer Matthews — who were blown up in 2009 by a Jordanian double agent in Khost, Afghanistan.
Left that last bit in for a reason, partially due to the gravity of it, but also because it was recreated in Zero Dark Thirty. The CIA had an actual hand in the making of that film, but it still sorta featured a lot of same things the ladies are complaining about in relation to Homeland, particularly in these quoted bits from agent Sandra Grimes and a covert agent named Meredith:
“I wish they wouldn’t use centerfold models in tight clothes. We don’t look that way. And we don’t act that way…”
The women I spoke with agreed that the “honey pot” image of C.I.A. women using sex to get secrets, as Carrie did in “Homeland,” was Hollywood sensationalism.
“Let’s not kid ourselves,” said a retired covert officer named Meredith, one of the first women to spy in hot spots around the globe. “For me, working in the Middle East, there’s a lot of attraction for Middle Eastern men for Western women. I don’t mean necessarily sexually, although they may be thinking that. But curiosity, if nothing else. And we certainly have played that.” With sex, she said, “you need to remove that off the table very quickly and clearly. Sometimes it’s ‘Get your hands off my knee or I’m going to break it,’ or you put as many people into the room as you can.”
I would say Jessica Chastain is pretty good looking for a CIA agent, but who knows. The entire piece is an interesting little look at the female perspective inside the CIA. It’s almost more interesting than some of the junk they’ve thrown on the screen on Homeland, particularly all the plots about Dana Brody.
You can get a really good grasp on where their complaints are coming from, probably while you’re stashing them near your complaints about the CIA as a whole.