We have been trying, and failing, to get into Homeland, another highly-recommended and very popular American television series. Its basic premise – an inversion of the ‘just-because-you’re-not-paranoid-doesn’t-mean-they’re-not-after-you’ theme – is full of potential. Clare Danes’s portrayal of a CIA officer with bi-polar disorder is excellent. But you can only get hooked on this series if you completely suspend all reasonable belief and are prepared to swallow moral repugnance at a simplistic and mono-cultural portrayal of the Islamic faith and the Arab peoples, ends-justify-the-means no-holds-barred voyeurism and – apologies for the cliché – gratuitous sex and violence. Watching all of this made us feel increasingly uneasy. Compare and contrast this with The West Wing, which also deals with terrorism and espionage at times but quite deliberately eschews facile representations of complex phenomena and resolutely rejects playing to prejudices, let alone confirming them. This is nowhere better illustrated than in the out-of-series episode filmed less than a month after the 9/11 attacks, Isaac and Ishmael. That such a nuanced, balanced and fair treatment of America’s Arabs and Muslims could be spliced into a popular series shortly after all the horror and trauma of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and UA Flight 93 is a truly magnificent example of American wisdom. I only wish I could write the same about Homeland.