TV Review: Tyrant (Pilot)

CAST: Adam Rayner, Jennifer Finnigan, Ashraf Barhom, Anne Winters, Noah Silver, Justin Kirk

A bold new series, if nothing else. I can’t imagine many networks are interested in airing a drama set in the middle east, with a predominantly Arab cast. The idea of showing a program from the side of a dictator-type family, even if the main character is grounded in American idealism, is a bold choice. It’s not the strongest pilot, but it works. I wasn’t bored.

Barry Al Fayeed (Rayner) takes his family (Finnigan, Winters, Silver) home for the first time in 20 years, to attend the wedding of his nephew. Over the course of an hour and some change, we learn how awful his father was, and how even more awful his brother (Barhom) is. Like, this is a bad dude. He could be one of TV’s great villains. He’s a psychopath from the first frame. He’s intriguing to watch as a character, because TV shows are often more interested in creating a redeemable series regular that they rarely throw caution to the wind and spend an hour making you hate him. We live in a world where Hannibal Lecter has his own show… and people root for him.

You’ll love to hate Jamal. I consider him a character void of redemption. There is no hope. In the pilot, he rapes his son’s fiance, rapes a random woman, punches his wife, beats the crap out of a man and attempts to cut all his fingers off, and tries to get oral sex while drunk driving. I can’t think of one good thing he did in the pilot episode, except not kill everyone he sees. I suppose the fact that he allows others to breathe the same air as him makes him a slightly humble person. (kidding).

It’s one of those shows that FX does so well. I think it’s perhaps a stronger show than their last summer series (The Bridge). It does have a dark spot. Barry’s kids… are insufferable. His son, Sammy, especially. Good God I hope that his son dies in the next episode. That would fix the series. I fear that they’re going to try and making him annoying and gay, to make some political statement about being gay in an arab world. He’s just way too annoying already, and I’ve only seen him in one episode. I’d rather the series bring back Ellis from Smash. He’s that fucking annoying. Everytime he was on screen I wanted a cruise missile to drop down and smash him in the face. Sammy just might be the most annoying character on TV right now.

So hear me producers. Write off Sammy, and keep doing what you’re doing with Jamal. Not everyone needs redemption, and Jamal works best if he cannot ever be the good guy. I look forward to the second episode.


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