The third series of the spy thriller starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis is a touch humdrum, but the documentary ‘House of Surrogates’ hits its target
When talking about the return of Homeland (RTÉ Two, Tuesday), it’s best to get the Carrie cryface thing out of the way first. So yes, Claire Danes’s face was as expressive as ever: eye-popping, brow-furrowing and maybe even more chin-quivering than before. The maverick one-time CIA agent is off her bipolar medication, saying that it stopped her from anticipating “America’s next 9/11”. The series three opener took up two months after that explosive end to series two; chief suspect Brody is on the run (he didn’t appear in this week’s episode) and his family is broke and ostracised. An indecisive Saul is head of the CIA because all the other bosses are dead, and Carrie is missing Brody so much she picks up a random redhead in the supermarket and takes him home. Teenager Dana Brody, the emerging star from last season, is back from a treatment centre after a suicide attempt, and sends a topless selfie to a boy – so that’s not going to end well, though everything she does spices up the dull Brody family scenes.
The Emmy-winning first series of Homeland was compulsive viewing, every episode a cliffhanger as Carrie raced to prove that Brody was a terrorist. Series two floundered with puzzling plot diversions – the teenagers and the hit-and-run being the most irrelevant – so series three has a lot of work to do to save Homeland from being just another ho-hum glossy TV action franchise. The opener was a dense and at times baffling episode (does anyone believe the CIA might be shut down?), reinforcing what we already know, although the ending – spoiler alert! – did give the direction of a new plot. Saul, after spending most of the episode wandering around brightly-lit corridors, betrays Carrie by publicly linking her to Brody in a senate committee hearing broadcast on TV. That sets up an unbridgeable chasm between these central characters and leaves her free to hunt Brody. Series three can’t hope to recreate the perfectly formed is-he-or-isn’t-he plot dynamic of series one – and Homeland should really have called it quits then – but there was enough in the opener to set some interesting events in motion.
As titles go, Drama Matters: The Psychopath Next Door (Sky Living, Tuesday) is a winner. It’s one of five drama pilots written by women; this one is by Julie Rutterford, it’s directed by Kieron J Walsh, and stars Anna Friel as Eve, a psychiatrist who is secretly a psychopath. Super glamorous, with a slick of red lipstick and luscious hair, she moves into a Desperate Housewives-type cul-de-sac and befriends the tracksuit-wearing mummies. Maybe it’s from watching crime dramas – or seeing the word “psychopath” in the title – but I had different expectations from this jaunty, almost comic hour of TV. It was more like The Wagon Next Door because all Eve did was cheat when they all went jogging, throw a pot plant in the bin, try to get the neighbourhood Queen Bee, Marianne (Eva Birthistle) off her diet and scratch a kid’s telescope. Not quite Hannibal Lecter or even Dexter – and the less said about the witless finale (Dexter, FX, Monday) to that once-clever drama the better. Similarly, The Psychopath Next Door ended bizarrely, stopping dead with a scene that appeared to be spliced in from nowhere.
The best, most thought-provoking documentary of the week was the feature-length House of Surrogates (BBC Four, Tuesday). In the rural, desperately poor Indian state of Gujarat, Dr Nayna Patel runs a lucrative surrogacy business. Up to 100 women live in her hostel – 10 to a room – which acts as a “wombs for hire” business for wealthy international couples. Patel, tapping into a growing industry worth $1 billion, sees herself as a feminist, saying surrogacy “is one woman helping another woman”, though it didn’t seem like that.
Her operation, she said, facilitates “the two basic instincts, to survive and reproduce”. The poor Indian women who earn $8,000 for carrying the baby, living in the hostel for nine months and giving birth, do so to survive and make better lives for their own children; the foreign couples get to procreate by paying $26,000 – a fifth of the cost in the US.
Patel has been called one of India’s most controversial figures, and is accused of running a “baby-making factory”. If she thought that giving the filmmaker Matt Rudge such open access to her life and business would improve her image, she was wrong – the contrast between her luxurious lifestyle and that of the poor human incubators was too stark and the balance of power between the surrogates and those who use them too great. As a Canadian couple prepared to leave India with their baby, the surrogate (who they had also employed as a wet nurse – a cruel thing, surely) looked bereft. “These surrogates are doing the physical work, they know there is no gain without pain,” said Patel.
The only time she is disappointed is, she said, when couples come to collect their baby and “won’t even look at the surrogate”. It was a chilling image in a probing film that deftly navigated its way through a moral minefield.
And finally, a brief acknowledgement that the always superb, breathtakingly clever Breaking Bad (Netflix, Monday) ended. Any review would give away too many spoilers and the publicity around the brilliantly crafted finale means that a whole slew of new fans are binge-watching to catch up. The drama’s creator Vince Gilligan did what he set out to do: “transform Mr Chips into Scarface”.
Please, tell me
Entering into a surrogacy arrangement
A surrogacy arrangement is an arrangement between a woman (the birth mother) and another person or couple (the intended parents) where the birth mother agrees to become pregnant with a child for the intended parents. After the baby’s birth, the birth mother gives the baby to the intended parents.
Types of surrogacy arrangement
There are 2 types of surrogacy arrangement:
Only altruistic (non-commercial) surrogacy arrangements are legal in Queensland.
Commercial surrogacy arrangements—where there is a payment, reward or any material benefit to anyone entering into a surrogacy arrangement or agreeing to a parentage order—are illegal.
Who can enter into a surrogacy arrangement
In Queensland, any person, regardless of their relationship status, can enter into a non-commercial surrogacy arrangement.
If you are the intended parent/s, you:
- may be a married or de facto couple (including same-sex de facto couples) or single
- do not need a genetic connection to the baby or birth mother
- may use any method for conception, such as in-vitro fertilisation, artificial insemination, self-insemination or natural conception.
You can make a surrogacy arrangement only before the birth mother becomes pregnant.
If you want a court order to transfer the parentage of your baby born through a surrogacy arrangement, you must meet certain requirements under surrogacy law in Queensland before entering into the arrangement.
The court may refuse the order if you don't meet these requirements.
How to enter into a surrogacy arrangement and transfer parentage
1. Get independent legal advice
You must get independent legal advice before making a surrogacy arrangement so you fully understand your rights and obligations, and the implications.
If there are 2 intended parents, you can both get legal advice from a lawyer at the same time. Similarly, if you are the birth mother and have a spouse, you and your spouse can get legal advice at the same time.
However, intended parents and birth parents cannot share the same lawyer.
2. Get counselling
Birth parents and intended parents must get counselling from an appropriately qualified counsellor before entering into a surrogacy arrangement. You can share the same counsellor.
Counselling will ensure you are aware of the social and psychological implications of the surrogacy arrangement and parentage order. For example, details such as how you will conceive the child and what genetic material will be used will have long-term implications for all parties.
Counselling should help address these issues.
3. Put the agreement in writing
Birth parents and intended parents must agree on the terms of the surrogacy arrangement, including who will pay the legal and other costs. You will need to put this agreement in writing.
4. Conception and pregnancy
If you are the birth mother, you can decide how the pregnancy will occur and what genetic material will be used. During pregnancy, you have control over your pregnancy.
5. Register the birth
The birth parents must register the baby’s birth with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
6. Get a surrogacy guidance report
Birth parents and intended parents must get a surrogacy guidance report from an appropriately qualified and independent counsellor after your baby is born. This can't be the same counsellor you spoke with before entering into the surrogacy arrangement.
According to the Surrogacy Act 2010 (PDF, 459KB) an appropriately qualified counsellor is someone who is at least 1 of the following:
A counsellor is considered independent if they both:
- have not given counselling about the surrogacy arrangement to
- the birth mother
- the birth mother’s spouse (if any)
- an intended parent
- are not directly connected with the medical practitioner who carried out the procedure resulting in the child’s birth.
7. Apply for a parentage order
If you are the intended parents, your baby must live with you for 28 days before you apply to the court to transfer the parentage. Your baby must be between 28 days and 6 months old when you apply.
8. Court decision
If you are the intended parents and the court grants a parentage order it means the birth parent/s no longer have a legal parental relationship with your baby and you are now your baby’s legal parents. You can register the parentage order with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and have your baby’s birth certificate changed to show you as the parents.
Enforcing a surrogacy arrangement
Surrogacy arrangements are not enforceable. This means you may change your mind at any time before the court makes a parentage order.
If you are the birth mother, you may decide not to give up the baby to the intended parents. If you are the intended parents, you may decide not to permanently care for the baby.
However, a court may enforce the part of the arrangement that relates to paying the birth mother’s reasonable surrogacy costs in some circumstances, such as if the birth mother gives up the baby to the intended parents and consented to the parentage order.