ATTENTION: Dexter series finale spoilers below:
One of the most common complaints with the Dexter series finale was while it certainly appeared that Dexter’s death was inevitable, the writing team opted instead to let him live. Fans were infuriated when they saw the serial killer pilot his boat directly into a hurricane, only to survive and become a lumberjack at some point in the future. The decision to keep Dexter among the living has been partially explained by the show’s producer, John Goldwyn. At the New York Film Festival, Goldwyn explained Dexter’s fate was less of a choice on the writers’ part and more of a mandate from Showtime’s executives.
During an interview with Vulture at the premiere of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Goldwyn discussed Showtime’s directive to Showtime’s creative team. “They won’t let us kill him,” the producer stated. “Showtime was very clear about that. When we told them the arc for the last season, they just said, ‘Just to be clear, he’s going to live.'” This directive led Dexter‘s writers to present the ending that ultimately aired.
One of the most persistent and damaging problems in film, television, comics, and other entertainment arenas is executive interference. While there are plenty of legitimate reasons for high-level management to come in and influence the direction taken by a property, I believe the creative team should be free to make the majority of the important decisions without executives hovering over their shoulders dictating every move. Management and creators have different goals that sometimes run into conflict with each other. One side is primarily focused on making money, a worthy and completely understandable position. However, when profit alone is the ultimate objective, writers and producers may be forced to make uncomfortable choices that hurt the quality of the property.
It appears Dexter’s disappointing finale (along with some of the other choices made in previous seasons) is the result of Showtime’s quest for more profits overriding the wishes and plans of the writers. One possible reason for Showtime’s request to keep Dexter alive might be an unannounced plan for a spinoff or continuation of his story in the future. The merit of this idea aside, most fans of the show agree that letting Dexter live, especially in the manner he did, diminishes the series’ brand. After hearing how Dexter’s original producer, Clyde Phillips, planned to end the series, I am doubly dissatisfied in the ending was the result of Showtime’s demands.
Did Dexter’s conclusion work for you? Do you have any thoughts about Showtime’s instructions to the writing team? How do you feel about executive interference? Post your comments below!