FX’s new show titled Tyrant premiered last weekend with its pilot episode. The show is written and produced by Giedon Raff who is best known for the critically acclaimed Showtime Drama, Homeland. Raff won two primetime Emmy aways for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series in 2012 for Homeland.
Tyrant’s plot is centered on an American family who goes to the fictional Middle East country of Abbudin for a wedding. Barry Al Fayeed, the main protagonist, is a pediatrician in California who has been in the United States for at least 20 years. He is the second son of the President/Dictator of the country of Abbudin. Barry (Adam Rayner) has an American wife Molly (Jennifer Finnigan) and two kids Emma (Anne Winters) and Sammy (Noah Silver). Barry’s brother is Jamal (Ashraf Barhom), who though once a timid and shy child according to flashbacks, is now an egotistical power hungry man who knows he will soon be in charge of a tumultuous country.
The show begins with Barry lying awake in bed, apparently unable to sleep. To clear his head he goes for a run, but continues to have flashbacks to his troubled childhood in Abbudin. Emma his daughter complains she does not what to leave America to go halfway across the world to the Middle East, and says obviously her father does not want to either, otherwise he would have returned home earlier.
Emma seems to be the smarter, more mature of the two children. Sammy is more concerned with the prestige and fame of being part of the royal family, while Emma is afraid of going to a country where women have little freedom. Both are typical complaining American teenagers though. The family sets off on a commercial airplane that has been bought out by Barry’s father because his son refused to take the private jet his father offered.
When the American family lands in Abbudin, the first episode of Fx’s new show Tyrant begins to pick up. Jamal greets them at the airport after one of his frequent sexual exploits with a woman who is not his wife. It is graphic and possibly forced. The family is overwhelmed by the opulence and grandeur of the palace that their father grew up in. Barry meets his father and is predictably cold and distant, making small talk and wanting to get back to the hotel. He speaks alone with his mother where Barry is told his father has changed, presumably for the better.
The children find out they must attend a bachelorette and bachelor party, gender respective of course. Sammy is excited to hear they will be in a steam room with other men, and is told to be careful by his sister because they are not in America anymore. While Sammy is stealing steamy looks at a young man at the bachelor party, Jamal and Barry deal with a threat on Jamal’s son’s wedding. Instead of threatening the man with force, Barry smartly provides another option. Invite the presumed threat and all of their family, wives and children included, to the wedding and spread them out around the dinning tables to ensure protection.
The wedding scene in Tyrant is a lavish affair filled with fireworks, dancing, and expensive food. There is also a sexual assault and gunshots added to the mix. The themes of using women as objects and the power of men over the fairer sex are a bit over the top. There are other ways to show the gender divide in the Middle East than by overt graphic sexual assault scenes.
At the end of the wedding, the president collapses and then eventually dies after telling Barry that he should have been the successor to his legacy instead of Jamal. Barry decides his family must leave immediately and to show his seriousness he slaps his own son twice when Sammy refuses to go. Meanwhile, Jamal takes the news of his father’s death horribly and drives off drinking in his sports car to find the woman he assaulted in the beginning on the show. She grabs some sort of needle before getting in the car. Jamal drives fast, forces her head into his lap and predictably she stabs him with a needle and they crash off a cliff. Jamal seems to still be alive, but government agents are sent to the airport to retrieve Barry and his family to ensure government stability. The next episode of FX’s new show Tyrant is set up for more drama as Barry and his family are stuck in Abbudin.
By B. Taylor Rash