Groups like Muslim Brotherhood front group, CAIR, have criticized ‘Tyrant’ for stereotyping Arab and Muslim culture with such “Islamophobic’ sequences. And the dhimmi left wing media agree (They hated ’24’ too)….all of which guarantees Tyrant will be a hit with audiences.
Airs on FX-TV channel, Tuesdays at 10PM
According to WFAE: With Iraq spiraling out of control in a conflict where everyone involved has a compromised and troubling past, there’s no better time for a TV series about the son of a brutal Middle Eastern dictator who returns home from America ready to oppose his father’s tactics.
It’s too bad that series has to be FX’s Tyrant, which fumbles the opportunity to present a nuanced, complex take on the subjects of governance in the Middle East and order versus freedom. Instead, viewers get a gritty fairy tale in which the Americanized characters are the most virtuous and figures regularly act in ways that make little sense beyond furthering the story.
Blue-eyed British actor Adam Rayner is Bassam Al-Fayeed, a pediatrician in Los Angeles with an interesting pedigree: His father, the dictator of Abbudin, a fictional Middle Eastern Muslim country, is nicknamed “The Butcher” for his brutal tactics in putting down a rebellion years ago. Bassam, who calls himself “Barry,” brings his blonde American wife and U.S.-raised kids to face his family history when a relative’s wedding prompts a return to his homeland.
Before long, circumstances arise that might require Bassam to run the country himself, mirroring the rise of a certain brutal dictator now fighting for his regime in Syria. A surprising flashback sequence reveals that Bassam may be just as capable of ruthlessness as his father, implying that their taste for violence might be something that’s in the family’s blood. (It is! It’s a genetic Muslim thing)
Groups like the (terror-tied Muslim Brotherhood front group CAIR) Council on American-Islamic Relations already have criticized Tyrant for stereotyping Arab and Muslim culture with such sequences. On that score, they have a point: Most every Arab character outside of Bassam is seriously flawed, including a murderous brother who is first seen raping a woman, a ruthless general whose solution to every problem is overwhelming deadly force, and a chubby, entitled nephew whose casual brutality nearly matches his father’s. (Stereotypes based on actual historical and modern day events)
“The entire premise lends itself to broad stereotypes,” says (CAIR’s spokesIslamist) Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for CAIR. “When you create a fictitious country, it becomes a stand-in for all Arab and Muslim countries. I actually walked out [of a screening] during one of the gratuitous rape scenes.” (I’m shocked they would even allow your slimy ass in)
“Barry” is consistently positioned as the only voice of reason in the Al-Fayeed family, which also includes Alice Krige in a wasted role as his British-born mother, Amira. After deciding to spend some time in Abbudin helping his brother stabilize the country, Bassam tries to bring Western-style political ideas to bear, discouraging officials from killing protesters and ending a hostage standoff by promising mercy to the hostage-takers.
This is a show about the Middle East as seen through Americanized eyes, with little of the nuances in Arab or Muslim culture on display. The unfortunate effect is a constant, not-so-subtle message: If these people would just act like Americans, everything would be so much better. (It would!)
The series was created by Israeli director (Ah, there’s the rub. This is the real reason CAIR and the MSM hate it so much) and writer Gideon Raff, who also created the Israeli series Prisoners of War and helped develop its American version, Showtime’sHomeland. Howard Gordon, a producer on Fox’s 24, worked with Raff on Homelandand now serves as top producer on Tyrant.
Bassam’s kids are apparently the two sides of his own id: Son Sammy loves his family’s wealth and power, caring little for the oppression that makes it possible, while daughter Emma hates the whole idea and spends most episodes glowering like a child deprived of her cellphone for a day.
Despite all that weighs against it, Tyrant remains an interesting show with lots of promise. The idea of a man torn between the brutal legacy of his family and more egalitarian beliefs is a compelling one. And talented performers such as Israeli Arab actor Ashraf Barhom, who plays Bassam’s murderous brother Jamal, bring humanity to characters written as more simplistic figures. (Uh oh, now you’ve gone and pissed off CAIR)
Given the current state of affairs in the Middle East — where countries like Iraq and Syria are embroiled in conflicts in which every major player has serious flaws — TV cries out for a House of Cards-style drama set in the region that can highlight all these questions about morality, religion and power in a quality setting.
Tyrant can still be that show. But it must first dispense with its simplistic notions of heroism and villainy, allowing a new vision of the Middle East outside the American gaze to emerge on television. (There is no new vision of the Middle East. Islam is Islam and it has always been evil)