Christopher M. Enis
I tried. I really did. I gave you two additional episodes after the horrible pilot, just to see if I was being too critical… too quick to give the show an “L”.
Tyrant was created by Gideon Raff and developed by Howard Gordon and Craig Wright. Raff and Gordon are co-creators of the political thriller, Homeland. But Tyrant looks and feels like one of Gordon’s previous shows, Fox’s 24. The setups are so similar, that I damn near expected Jack Bauer to come out blasting terrorists at any moment. That should have been my first sign that things were not going to end well.
The premise is interesting enough; Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed (Adam Rayner) is a pediatrician in Southern California who is living the classic American dream. He has a good job, a WASP wife, Molly (Jennifer Finnigan) and two loving kids. He also just happens to be #2 son of the dictator of (fictional) Middle Eastern country, Abbudin.
In the first episode, Barry and the family are getting set to head to Abbudin to attend his nephew’s wedding. For Barry, this will the first time in two decades he’s been home, since turning his back on the family’s way of life… and we soon find out… the family ‘business.’ Dad buys out the plane so the family can fly in peace (bling, bling, baby!), and we’re off.
The family arrives and we get our first look at Abbudin. We’re also introduced to Barry’s brother, Jamal, who makes his show debut by RAPING A WOMAN.
Anyone who has paid any attention to current events over the past 30+ years knows that the way Middle Eastern women are treated, is something that most Western cultures find unacceptable. So how do the creators of the show choose to show just how bad it is? Introduce Jamal, and have him go on an assault/rape spree (including his soon to be daughter-in-law, whom he assaults at her wedding… welcome to the family). Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld couldn’t have concocted a better scenario to justify sending troops into Iraq. Jamal is the rape happy Arab Bogeyman/Weapon Of Mass Destruction that George W. Bush wishes he could have found.
If all of this wasn’t bad enough, we have to deal with the massive elephant in the room (yes, there’s a another elephant besides the family sex predator). Barry sports the bluest eyes… an anomaly explained by casting actress Alice Krige as his mother, Amira. Barry is clearly the “good guy” who ran away from his horrible, evil Middle Eastern home to America, and totally embraced the American Way. Jamal is clearly Middle Eastern (portrayed by Israeli actor Ashraf Barhom) and is a bad, bad, “see how they are” bad man.
I’m not even talking about the performances of the two actors because, for me, the foundation of what the characters represent cancels out everything else. Even the ending of the pilot episode is so eye-rolling, ridiculously WTF (I won’t spoil it for you but there’s a car crash that occurs because someone almost gets their peen bitten off. Kids, never force women you savagely raped, to give you BJ while you’re driving a car on a winding cliff road, because it’s not going to end well). It’s no small wonder why this nonsense was practically condemned by the Council On American-Islamic Relations. Hell it should have been condemned by humanity just on GP.
The two episodes following the pilot have a couple of interesting plot twists… but it’s all very Scandal-like (actually, I’m not sure Olivia Pope would even be up for this kind of thing). But most of it is just baffling. It’s nearly hilarious that after all this time (20 years), Molly is ‘just now’ wanting to discuss Barry’s connection to his family. It’s as if she’s never even considered his life before he came to America, and like she doesn’t have access to… I don’t know… CNN to witness WTF has been happening in his home country all this time.
And even though, after the pilot, Jamal tones down his act (a nearly bitten off penis will do that to one’s spirit, I reckon), it’s not enough to forgive the show. For one thing, every time he showed up on screen, all I could think about was his shenanigans in the pilot. If in entertainment, you have to give your audience a reason to come back, I’m wondering what the reasoning is for some of the character choices. At what point do you cross the line without any hope of coming back? It takes a lot for me to get to the point where I just clock out, and Tyrant holds the record of getting me to tune out (about 2 seconds after Jamal’s debut scene) faster than any other show.
RATING: Not Worth It.