WASHINGTON • One of the most enjoyable qualities of Showtime's political thriller Homeland is just how unhinged it is.
This is a television show that revolves around Carrie Mathison, a mentally ill Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer who sleeps with her boss, gets several of her colleagues killed and somehow remains employed.
Realistic, it is not. And that is part of the fun. Yet, showrunner Alex Gansa said the Donald Trump era created certain challenges in writing the show's seventh season, which will premiere on Feb 11.
Each year, Gansa and the show's writing team visit Washington D.C. to speak with CIA insiders to learn about the country's threats in hopes of translating them to the screen. They made this trip six years in a row without incident.
But the most recent one proved a bit different, he told Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd.
"There are intelligence officers we met in D.C. who say what they do every morning is wake up and check their phones to make sure Seoul, South Korea, is still there.
"When you're facing that kind of uncertainty, it's difficult to parallel in our Homeland world," Gansa said.
The difficulty comes in putting that sort of real-life terror into a show already known for being absurdist, particularly when the real world seems even more absurd. "It felt much scarier in real life than what we were writing," he said.
He wants to be clear that Homeland is not intended as a direct parallel to real-world politics.
While he hopes the show is "relevant", he said the writers are not necessarily trying to comment on actual events - some of which he finds frightening, such as United States President Trump's ongoing feud with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
"We're not trying to be prescient or comment too directly on what's happening in the world," he said. "Frankly, some of the stuff that's going on is quite scary. We don't address North Korea, for example."