When I saw the previews for “Tyrant” on FX, I was excited. The premise looked good and it was FX. They’ve been doing pretty well lately and have some of the more entertaining shows on tv right now. The premise of the show is that the youngest son of the ruthless Al-Fayeed dictator returns home (fictional middle eastern country) with his family after being away in America for 20 years. Through flashbacks, we see why he stayed away so long and we see what his older brother who stayed behind has turned into.
There was a lot of drama before the show debuted most notably, Ang Lee, the director of Broke Back Mountain fame and who won the Oscar for Life of Pi, was attached to direct and dropped out of the project. He was replaced by a director who people felt didn’t have enough experience. Oh and HBO passed on the show.
The show had some location issues (later in the season they had to move production from Israel to Turkey due to the conflicts). The biggest and most controversial issue was casting a non-middle eastern, British man (Adam Rayner – who is so fine. those eyes…) as the lead in a show about a middle eastern man. I mean, how hard is it to find one? Are we saying they are only good enough to play terrorists but not lead? (In the pilot, we do see he is half, as his mother is British but my stance remains the same)
All this withstanding, that tuesday night in late June, I plopped up on my couch ready to watch. I watched. Something was off but I didn’t know what but I liked it enough to want to keep watching. Second episode, the feeling that something was off grew bigger but I was still in there. Third episode, I completely forgot it was on (thank God for DVR). Fourth episode, I fell asleep. Fifth episode, I fell asleep again. You get the picture. See at this point, I accepted the show was deeply flawed but I was going to hang in there till the end. But what was wrong?
I am not sure I can tell you. It’s easy for me to say the casting but I do feel it played a part. Adam Rayner is fine but my God, he is so stiff. His character is supposed to be a bit uptight but this was beyond. Jennifer Finnigan (who I remember from when I used to watch Bold & Beautiful) as the wife is the worst. She is the epitome of vanilla. She overacts. She really doesn’t have so much chemistry with Adam Rayner either. Justin Kirk as the U.S ambassador, really just acts like he needs mortgage money and he is bored. I won’t waste my breath on the actors who play the kids. I take that back, their characters are so annoying I don’t want to talk about them.
Early in the season, Ashraf Barhom who plays the brother, Jamal was the MVP of the show. His character is so heinously evil, you wish him the worst but as more episodes went by, he began to sound like he was struggling to remember his lines or something. Now the true MVP of the show is Morian Atias who plays Leila, Jamal’s wife. This woman is such a boss, so pretty and wears the best clothes.
Back to what I think went wrong, I don’t think the show and everything involved ever got comfortable in their own skin. This makes it hard for us as viewers to connect. The characters themselves are quite unlikeable. There’s noone you are rooting for. If you don’t care about a character, you can’t get invested and that’s a problem. The finale aired last night and I have said I would be surprised if the show got picked up but critics are saying they expect a pick up as other shows on FX are suffering a ratings dip. I probably will tune in again if it gets picked up because it ended with a cliff hangar and honestly I still believe in the potential of this show and wouldn’t discourage anyone if they wanted to watch it. It just needs to be in the right hands. Too bad the cast can’t be recast.
I know a number of people who love this show. Do you watch? Let me know what you think.