‘Homeland’ Showrunner Talks ISIS Storyline’s Eerie Real-World Similarities

Homeland showrunner Alex Gansa says that the ISIS-related storyline in Season 5 of the hit Showtime series was never meant to so closely mirror the real-world exploits of the terror group – it just happened to turn out that way.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gansa addressed similarities to real-life happenings in a recent episode of the show, which includes an ISIS threat to Berlin. While two characters argue that sending ground troops into ISIS-controlled territory in Syria would be playing directly into the terrorist group’s hands, President Obama was delivering a primetime address to the nation saying much the same thing.

Gansa told EW he’s “just a layperson” and doesn’t claim to speak for the military intelligence community, but said President Obama was “telling the truth” when he argued that ISIS wants American troops on the ground in Syria.

“All we’ve heard in our research with our consultants, that’s exactly what’s being perpetrated and nothing would make [Islamic State] happier than if we committed 100,000 troops or something,” Gansa told the outlet, adding:

But from all we’ve heard, yes, American troops could take Raqqa in a matter of months but the problem is: What then? What do we do once we’re there? We’re facing a chaotic array of enemies down there and we’re back to another Iraq situation. That doesn’t seem like the answer. Stronger, better, more intelligence minds than mine are trying to figure it out. But I don’t believe rashly rushing into that area is wise.

Of course, the season’s first episode featured a memorable speech by Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), who argued that the United States didn’t have a strategy to defeat the Islamic State and that the only way to fix the crisis in Syria was by sending 200,000 ground troops into Raqqa indefinitely.

Gansa told EW that Quinn’s passion for ground troops was a result of his two-year experience in the region as the leader of an ant-ISIS special ops team.

“That was probably an incredibly difficult, super violent and unbelievably frustrating two years. How much progress did he make? How much killing did he have to unleash? And what does that do to a human being?” the showrunner said, adding:

That said, his statement that the United States doesn’t have a strategy, it could be argued he’s on the mark. But it’s not as if we haven’t tried to develop a strategy, it’s just a strategy against these people is difficult to construct. And most sane people would argue that putting 100,000 troops on the ground in Syria would not be the best solution.

In the interview, Gansa called President Obama’s primetime address on terrorism “reasoned, measured, and exactly appropriate,” but said that the Showtime series did not attempt to take sides on the terrorism issue one way or the other.

“I’m reluctant to speak on these issues,” he said. “Homeland tries not to do that. We try to pose questions, not posit answers.”

The Season 5 finale of Homeland airs next Sunday, December 20 on Showtime.


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