Dissecting The 'Homeland' Phenomenon

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Americans are obsessed with terrorism.

Fans are on the edge of their seats waiting for the third season of Homeland, CBS Showtime's critically acclaimed, yet controversial cable television show. The show's two main characters are Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a damaged U.S. Marine who was "turned" by al-Qaeda, and Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a bi-polar, yet brilliant, CIA officer.

Season 2's premiere last October pulled in a combined 2.07 million viewers, including encore airing, up 60% from the year before, according to media reports. Season 3, which premieres on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9:00 p.m. EST, will surely surpass that, given the growing buzz about the show. The current state of the American psyche is likely driving the show's popularity.

Homeland viewers can relate to the show's premise -- the very real threat of terrorists living among everyday people. That much became obvious with 9/11 and more recently with the Boston Marathon bombings this past spring.

"It's topical," says Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at Horizon Media. "It really resonates with the viewers because it's relevant. It's something going on now. It's a little more real."

The show's popularity also comes from its anti-hero protagonist, who happens to be a female, Adgate says.

"It's not Tony Soprano or Don Draper. ... it's Carrie Mathison," Adgate says. "Claire Danes is just a brilliant actor."

It also has the age-old recipe for TV viewing: we love our flawed characters.