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If you can't wait that long to get your crime-and-fraternal-struggle-in-working- class-America fix, there's Showtime's Brotherhood, which debuts in June. That drama, which features two brothers--one a rising politician, the other a small-time crook--is set in Providence, R.I., but also explores fate and circumstance in the mournful, urban-blighted Northeast of a generation ago. "Without getting too highfalutin," says creator Blake Masters about the trend toward villain protagonists, "post-9/11, we hit some of our darkest days, and now we're in a war that will go on for years against an enemy we can't understand. One of the things we can do in TV and movies is explore that stuff."
If this material sounds politically fraught, cop shows have always been: whether you focus on crime's punishment or its causes is to some people a key dividing line between conservative and liberal. But the toughest antihero for middle America to warm to may be the lead actor of Showtime's forthcoming Dexter, a serial killer who has channeled his impulses by becoming a forensics expert who solves crimes, then offs the criminals. "If you're compelled to kill," jokes Hall, "it may as well be people who deserve it."
The premise is chilling, but viewers are meant to identify with Dexter because he's aware of his pathology and struggles with it. "There is something inherently good about him," says Hall. "He's lovable, which is what creates the ambiguity." America in love with a bloodthirsty killer who slaughters menaces to society? Maybe Tony Soprano really does have something to worry about.