Serial killers might not be the world’s best role models but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn anything from them. Dexter Morgan successfully juggles his police work and urge to kill, maintains a relatively happy marriage, has sex with a string of attractive women and manages to stay perfectly trim and healthy without ever apparently going to the gym or getting a full night’s sleep. Young fathers, the emotionally crippled and assassins can learn a lot from Miami’s finest blood guy.
Being a “genius” is surprisingly easy
Throughout our lives most of us don’t get called a genius too often. It doesn’t tend to happen at school, generally not at work and definitely not when we are attempting to get into Mensa. Dexter Morgan is a genius, with a lizard brain apparently. Throughout the show we are repeatedly told how clever he is and often see him make remarkable intuitive leaps that could come from nowhere but the mind of a genius. Or a really lazy writer.
If Dexter is anything to go by it seems being incredibly clever isn’t actually that hard. It’s about as difficult as shooting babies in a barrel or stealing candy from a duckling. Not only does Dexter constantly let his “kills” slip through his fingers (in the case of one episode in Dexter series two, he doesn’t bring enough shrink-wrap to hold Little Chino), he befriends murderers who he later winds up having to kill, lets one butcher a family member, repeatedly gets caught in the act of killing, and at no point seems to realise that hiding your face is advisable when about to commit a felony, particularly when you seem to constantly do it in public places.
And yet Dexter Morgan is still one of the smartest people in Miami. That’s probably because…
Cops are very stupid
Just like pioneering mid-80s rap groups, plenty of people have a poor image of the po-lice. In reality we shouldn’t dislike cops because of a lack of respect for authority figures, we should be wary of them because they are stupid, really, really stupid.
If you are thinking of becoming a serial killer in Miami any time soon, don’t worry about getting caught. There’s as much chance of that happening as Jack the Ripper finally getting a long overdue day in court. Take Dexter, not only does he not hide his face when committing his crimes, he is also constantly talking to serial killers on his cell phone, downloading reams of protected police information on a variety of criminals (who often mysteriously disappear soon afterwards) and is friends with, or related to, an awful lot of people with a murderous background. Still he seems amiable enough, he couldn’t be a serial killer, could he?
In fact, the Miami Metro Homicide Department generally seem unable to tell their arse from their elbow or a serial killer from a cereal box. It usually takes Dexter approximately eight seconds to track down a repeat murderer. It takes his colleagues (even the apparently super-smart FBI agents), a full season to and even then they usually screw things up and helpfully arrive after all the crucial action has taken place.
Perhaps the cops secretly know Dexter’s a killer and the real lesson here is not that cops are stupid but will ignore your murderous predilections if you seem nice and bring them doughnuts. That would explain the moment in Dexter series 6 when the entire death squad wait outside of a crime scene while Dexter defaces the incriminating mural of himself painted on the wall inside. The entire squad! Someone must have had a peak inside and thought, lets give him a minute.
Always listen to dead people
Life can be difficult to negotiate sometimes. Your job, partner and desire to kill always somehow conspire to complicate things. So when life is getting you down it’s always helpful to talk things over with a dead parent. Whenever one does appear, make sure and take their advice. Dead people always know what they are taking about.
Take Dexter’s always encouraging father, Harry. He is constantly giving his sentient son pithy advice that if taken would make the show far less entertaining but Dexter’s life much simpler. Like when Harry thinks you should murder that murdering psychopath and not become his new best friend, or that you shouldn’t have friends, kids or be happy, it’s probably best to listen. Or seek psychiatric help.
Everyone is a serial killer
This is a really important one. We all grow up being taught to give people the benefit of the doubt. Sure some people might tell you “you suck”, break your heart or burn Jews in gas chambers but, usually, people are as nice as pie.
At least that’s what they want you to think. A quick glance at the world of Dexter and you realise that people are not so great. In fact, they are all serial killers.
That jogger in the park? Serial killer.
That family man who runs your local corner-shop? Serial killer.
That serial killer who likes killing people?
You get the idea.
If there is one really important lesson to take from Dexter it is that no matter how paranoid you are right now, this second, it isn’t nearly enough. If Buffy’s Sunnydale exists on the Hellmouth then Dexter’s Miami is hell’s arse-end.
Just without the wry sense of humour or clever dialogue.
For more TV related self-help, learn from the wisdom of Walter White.