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‘Homeland’ Cast, Creators on Their Need to Address Fake News: ‘It’s Happened for a Sad Reason’

While “Homeland” has always been fairly relevant to current events, the story arc it has featured this season has found the show exploring new heights of relevancy that would have otherwise seemed far-fetched.

The stars and creators of the show, including Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend, showrunner Alex Gansa, and director and executive producer Lesli Linka Glatter joined an enthusiastic crowd at the NeueHouse in Hollywood for the show’s official Television Academy Emmy screening. The event kicked off with a screening of Season 6’s tense penultimate episode, followed by a screening of the first five minutes of the season finale.

After sharing this footage with the audience, the cast and crew stuck around for an hourlong panel about the season. While the conversation was generally free-flowing, covering topics such as Danes’ character, Carrie Mathison, and her complete lack of a love life this season, as well as Elizabeth Marvel’s inspirations for her role as President-elect Elizabeth Keane, the conversation never strayed too far from the show’s interactions with the often surreal developments in real life.

Gansa, who was characteristically gregarious throughout the event, talked about the effect that these stories had on the development process. “One of the privileges of doing this show is that at some point in the season we are writing scripts contemporaneously with real events happening, and that happened this season around episode five or six when the election happened,” Gansa said. “We realized we were going to have to adjust and change the narrative a little bit, and the first thing we wanted to impress was that there was something going on — that our election was influenced by another force and by fake news, which struck us as a very ripe topic to write the story around.”

This idea of fake news being central to the story this season was echoed by everyone in the cast. Patinkin was especially emphatic about this point, leading to a round of applause after he finished speaking.

“In my opinion, the two central characters of this season are ‘Fake News’ and ‘Truth,’” Patinkin said. “And it’s happened for a sad reason, because it needs to spoken about relentlessly until this idea of creating falsehoods and the effect that it has on human beings all over this world, not just famous human beings who make it into the news, but refugees who are sitting in foreign countries being told they can’t come here because it’s not safe when it can be safe, when it is safe.”

“When the gold standard of vetting is the United States, when three million refugees have come in since 1975, 900,000 since 9/11, and not a single terrorist incident has taken place by a refugee in this country, that’s important information to be saying over and over again,” he continued. “There are people in Oklahoma that are sitting there crying because they think they’re in so much danger, but it’s from lies.”

Gansa continued talking about the dedication that the show’s creative team had for grounding the season in facts while navigating an environment fraught with fake news and fear.

“One of the things that we learned was that, according to our intelligence experts, there are no coordinated ISIS or al-Qaida cells in the United States like there are in Europe,” Gansa said. “Yes, we have these lone actors, yes we have these people who self-radicalize, but there are no terror cells here. So when we sat down to talk about this season, we didn’t want to dramatize any threat to the United States that doesn’t actually exist. We didn’t want to pile on. If you listen to Hillary [Clinton] talk, if you listen to Donald Trump talk during the election, there’s this sense that ISIS is this existential threat to the United States, but everything we have heard from people we have come to trust in the intelligence community tells us that actually isn’t true.”

After the panel concluded, guests and stars went up to the roof for a reception and enjoyed a live jazz band with food and drinks.

The Season 6 finale of “Homeland” airs on April 9.

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