After graduating from Princeton, Alex Gansa ’84 and Howard Gordon ’84 went to Los Angeles together, looking for work as television writers. Twenty-seven years later, the frequent collaborators are back together as executive producers of the Showtime drama series Homeland – a spy thriller about a CIA agent trying to determine if a former American soldier and prisoner of war is working to aid foreign terrorists.
The show, which stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, was inspired by an Israeli series about prisoners of war. Homeland received promising ratings and positive reviews when it debuted in early October. Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-, calling it “the most serious yet entertaining, sly yet not ‘cool’ drama” of the fall season,” and TV Guide said the espionage-themed series may be TV’s “first post-post-9/11 show.”
Gordon, best known for his work as a writer and producer on 24 and The X-Files, said the show has received high marks from at least one intelligence insider. “I think we were expecting our CIA consultant to say our draft was horse[crap],” Gordon said in an interview with The Hill, “but she was surprised by how authentic it was.”
Gansa, who also wrote for 24 and produced seasons of Numb3rs and The X-Files, told The New York Times that the killing of Osama bin Laden may have opened new avenues for fiction about counterterrorism. “This is precisely the atmosphere in which the best spy shows are told,” he said. “The world has become more gray, and it’s harder to know who to trust. A spy show in which there are clear black hats and white hats is going to devolve quickly into being boring.”
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