Showtime’s original programming has long been the realm of “Eh, good enough,” which partially explains the fervor that Homeland has caused since it debuted on the network in the fall of 2011. Earning a boost from its bountiful, presumption-flouting crop of Emmys, the second-season première for the espionage thriller bested both the opening and closing of that award-winning first season, pulling 1.73 million viewers in its initial airing. And, as The Wrap points out, with encore presentations factored in, that number jumps to 2.07 million, nearly twice the 1.08 million people who were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the show’s series première last October.
“Pleasant surprise” was the order of the day for Showtime on Sunday, which not only saw Homeland’s audience expand, but also saw a record number of people tune in—despite how the show had treated them before—to the promising beginning of Dexter’s seventh season. 3.04 million viewers ignored the sound of Colin Hanks intoning “Hello, whore,” a new high for a season première of the show. Sure, it’s hardly the 20.6 million who cheered on the Giants and Eagles or the 11 million looking for a bedtime story from Once Upon A Time, but for Showtime, 3.04 million viewers is still pretty good. Maybe the network can start pursuing a programming strategy that isn’t “Give every show eight seasons!” (Though a few more years of Homeland couldn’t hurt.)