Tyrant Review by Redertainment

Tyrant 1.03: My Brother's Keeper

Tyrant 1.03: My Brother's Keeper

Written By:
Glenn Gordon Caron
Directed By:
Michael Lehmann

During the World Series, my TV screen was awash with ads for an upcoming series on FX called Tyrant.  The ads were vague as to what the show would be about, but nonetheless I was intrigued to see if this new show would follow in the tradition of great dramas on FX, a tradition that includes Rescue MeSons Of Anarchy, and The Americans.  Tyrant debuted on June 24th.  I usually try to watch three episodes of a show before I make a judgment about whether or not I will continue to watch it.  The third episode of this series debuted on July 8th.  I believe I can make a judgment as to whether or not I will continue watching it.


Tyrant is a drama set in a fictionalized Middle-Eastern country and focuses on the two sons of the President of this fictionalized country, the older of whom is groomed to inherit the country upon his father's death.  The younger son, Bassam "Barry" Al Fayeed, fled the country, and his family's opulent wealth, to become a pediatrician in California.  Even though he is strongly opposed to it, Bassam's wife, Molly, convinces Barry to travel back to the country of his birth, after nearly twenty years of being away, to attend the wedding of the eldest son of his older brother, Jamal.


Jamal, as it turns out, is not a very nice person to the citizens of the country he is to inherit, as well as the people around him.  About a half-hour into the pilot episode, we find Jamal raping a woman in her house with her husband and son sitting outside the room where this is taking place, hearing everything that goes on.  After he's done, Jamal exits the house set in this impoverished neighborhood, steps into his clean red Ferrari, turn on some 80's hair metal, and drives off with his security detail in tow.  The rest of the pilot episode doesn't paint Jamal in a very good light.  There is a scene where Jamal enters a room where his son's soon to be wife is getting ready for the ceremony.  Jamal talks to his soon to be daughter-in-law about how important it is to his son that his wife be pure, and then reaches up her dress and breaks her hymen.  The reason that he does this is never really conveyed, other than to make Jamal look like a psycho.


While Jamal is abusive to all people, Bassam is much different.  Bassam stands in stark contrast to nearly everyone else inside the power structure of this fictionalized Middle-Eastern country.  Bassam wants to solve everything through talk and mutual agreement, while everyone else seems more than willing to use their power and influence to put down any perceived threat by force.  In such a situation, Bassam could serve to calm the fires of dissent that exist among the general populace.  However all Bassam is interested in is getting back to America and away from his family.  Even when his father dies, Bassam cannot be wavered from this point.  It takes Bassam's uncle, the leader of the military in this fictionalized country, sending armed military forces to the plane that Bassam tries to flee in to get Bassam to stay for, at the very least, his father's funeral.  The end of the pilot episode of Tyrant sees Bassam and his family stuck in a situation that Bassam wants desperately to leave, but is momentarily unable to do so.


The next two episodes see Jamal ascend to the Presidency upon his father's death.  Jamal's ascension comes despite him being laid up in the hospital after an assassination attempt involving Jamal drunkenly driving his Ferrari off of a steep embankment after the woman who he had previously raped bit through his penis while giving Jamal oral sex in his car as he is drunkenly driving it.  Bassam continues to begrudgingly go along with his role as consolt to the new President, but comes to accept his role after he sees the rampant violence inflicted on the military by the populace, as well as his brother's cruelty to others and wanton sexual depravity.  Bassam stays in the fictionalized Middle-Eastern country, keeping his family nearby as the emotional support he will need in order to endure his family and what they have done with their power and wealth.


This all sound like the basis of a great long-running dramatic series.  Many characters with rich backstories waiting to be unveiled to the watching public, all in conflict with global political intrigue throughout.  The problem comes with the articulation of the characters that drive this series.


Tyrant was created by Gideon Raff, the creative force behind the Showtime series HomelandHomeland has received criticism over the way that it portrays people of Muslims and Middle-Eastern descent, pointing out how the series portrays some Muslims as being backward, behind the times, and unfit to exist in decent society.  Some of those same criticisms can be laid at the feet of Tryant, except for one problem: The vast majority of the characters in Tyrant are of Middle-Eastern descent.  The only characters that aren't of Middle-Eastern descent are the ambassador from the United States and Bassam Al Fayeed's wife Molly.  The rest of the characters carry the taint of being portrayed in a way that is, in one way or another, based on some stereotype that the West has of people of Middle-Eastern descent.  That is the problem that I have with this series.


While the political intrigue in Tyrant is something that I would normally find compelling, the jingoistic portrayal of the people that fill out this series is something that I cannot abide.  Tyrant could have served as a way for Gideon Raff to show the deep knowledge of the people that he, as an Israeli, grew up around.  However, Tyrant will do nothing to silence those critics, critics that include me.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • The premise isn't entirely bad
The Bad:
  • Portrayal of Middle Easterns is terrible
  • Characters are little more than stereotypes
  • Too much shock for shock's sake

Redertainment is a regular participant across the VOG Network! You can follow him on twitter at @Redertainment.

Tyrant by - 8/4/2014 8:06 AM267 views

Your Responses

Registered Participants can leave their own Concurring/Dissenting Opinion and receive Points and Loot! Why not sign in and add your voice?


Log in to add your own voice and receive points by leaving good comments other users like!