Season one on DVD.

Years ago, I read a review of Steven Spielberg’s A.I. that effusively praised the film for its exploration of the “programming” in our genes that makes us human. The writer argued that the A.I. robot-boy’s love for his mother is just as genuine as any child’s filial love because “love” is just a way of behaving, a way that could be wired into circuitry and flesh alike. I didn’t buy her argument, and I didn’t like the movie, largely because I wasn’t willing to leap past “But he’s a robot!” I didn’t see robot-boy’s behavior as love (certainly not when it was embodied by the creepy Haley Joel Osment), so even though I was intrigued by the notion of breaking down what “love” really is, I didn’t believe A.I. had done so.

But where A.I. failed, the serial killer drama Dexter, of all things, has succeeded brilliantly. That long-forgotten review of A.I. came racing back to me when I started watching the first season of the Showtime series via Netflix. Robot-boy is a poor medium for pondering what it means to be human, but the sociopathic protagonist of Dexter is perfect, and no one could be more surprised and intrigued by that than I.