Decoding “The Code”: Reception Theory and Moral Judgment of Dexter

Steven Granelli, Jason Zenor


Dexter is a popular television show because it uses the narrative devices of classic cop shows while adding the twist of having a protagonist as an antihero who kills people. Accordingly, this study examines how audiences read the text of Dexter and offers unique implications for the field of entertainment studies. This study uses a mixed-method approach for a more holistic understanding of audiences. The findings show four dominant audience perspectives, each of which coincides with both a mode of audience engagement and a theory of moral reasoning. This study suggests that future research must look at audience interpretations to fully understand the dynamic between texts, audiences, and effects.


audience engagement, moral reasoning, antiheroes, Q-methodology, media psychology

Full Text: