Hello and welcome to Tube Talk’s summer TV coverage and we begin with the new FX Israeli political family drama, Tyrant and its debut episode. Join us!
This review contains barrels of SPOILERS!
Tyrant: Season 1: Episode 1: Pilot: GRADE: C-
From the mind of Homeland creator Gideon Raff, comes another drama series seeped in settings from the Middle East, Tyrant. The story of Bassam “Barry” Al Fayeed who has spend the past 20 years in self-selected exile in Los Angeles from his family, who happens to be the family of the president of Abbudin. He and his family returns to Abbudin for the wedding of Barry’s nephew and with his return brings along a dramatic culture clash and a reluctant return to the life he long left behind.
This is one of two new FX dramas premiering this summer, and right now, its off to a decent start.
Tyrant’s Pilot does have a slight problem in so few of its characters are really interesting. Adam Rayner as Barry is the most compelling, which I guess hey a show needs its main character to be, am I right? Adam sells so much the resistance and resentment he has for the life he was raised in. Its a shame the rest of his family isn’t as compelling as his children, Emma (Anne Winters) and Sammy (Noah Silver), aren’t that interesting off the bat. They seem like typical kids and whatnot, but at least Sammy has the beginning of what might be an interesting storyline. His wife Molly (Jennifer Finnigan) keeps scratching at him to understand his past, which he’s reluctant to share, which I understand given his family past, but yet she’s always persistent.
Maybe he’ll give in as the show goes on but, I also can see them coming apart due to the circumstances that keep them at the end of the Pilot.
Flashbacks are given into Barry’s life that makes things more insightful along with his brother Jamal (Ashraf Barhom). Jamal is one the biggest pieces of shit with having sex with a married women as husband and child actively wait outside and breaking his son’s new bride’s hymen. It like we’re meant to truly just hate him right away, the show is telling up who kicks puppies for a living and it tries too hard in that regard, also saying something for a depiction of most the women in this pilot that better get improved upon soon enough. Sexual assault uses the women as plot devices in an attempt to be shocking and edgy to get the show talked about, but it goes about it the wrong way.
There’s even a point where it tries to say something about women’s rights in the Middle East, but I can’t kinda buy it after its so willing to throw sexual assault around like candy on Halloween. Later on Barry and Jamal’s father, Khaled Al-Fayeed (Nasser Faris), die and Jamal becomes the new President. How does he celebrate? Drunk driving a sports car while forcing blowjob from someone trying to drug him and crash off a cliff. Fun times and that’s the main thing that gets Barry’s family to stay here.
Flashbacks help show Barry originally wanted to follow in father’s footsteps and Jamal didn’t, but later on roles reverse cause shit man. Barry seems to be the one thing that anchor of the series for the pilot, the family he created isn’t that interesting yet, but his family he left is far more engaging. There is also a glimmer of interest with his childhood best friend Fauzi Nadal (Fares Fares) as one of Barry’s childhood friends, who is a freedom-fighting reporter who has hd run-ins with Barry’s dad. That’s touched upon but I hope is greatly expanded upon as the series goes on.
Much like Homeland from before, the premise is far more interesting and engaging with mixing political family drama with headline-saddling story. Hopefully the show will know to focus on the people and not trying to make some sort of grand statement and forget its plot while along the way, or even quickly become as dull as Homeland did.