Dexter Not Ready To Die Just Yet

Dexter ends its fifth season on Sunday, but anyone who thought this might finally mark the title character being unmasked as a serial killer can probably stop wondering now, as the series has been renewed by Showtime.

Dexter is the most popular series on Showtime, an especially noteworthy status as the network has had some trouble sustaining interest in its other dramas, and has of late mostly been known for edgy not-really-comedies like Weeds and Nurse Jackie. Showtime president David Nevins said, "To grow its audience so significantly in its fifth season is an enormous accomplishment by this amazing cast and crew. This is the easiest decision I've made since I got to Showtime."

The show has succeeded in spite of two seeming barriers to public acceptance: first, the title character is extremely weird -- while he may kill "only" other killers, he is acting less out of vengeance than he is out of a compulsion to murder; and second, while Dexter is forever facing obstacles to his hobby and the threat of being discovered, there's no chance that can ever happen before the series comes to an end.

The producers have found clever ways around this problem by giving Dexter Morgan a running mate of sorts the last three seasons: a prosecutor-turned-protege (played by Jimmy Smits), a veteran killer with the same "normal" facade Dexter has himself (John Lithgow), and a would-be victim Dexter takes under his wing (Julia Stiles). But neither Smits nor Lithgow survived their seasons, and assuming Stiles's character follows suit, one has to wonder how much longer Showtime can keep this concept going.