TV Review - Tyrant: Season 3

Unfortunately, this show killed off what was the best part of itself. This before, it pulled a ridiculous, soap opera move of playing the paternity game. The show has become awash in misery porn, but it's still interesting for one of two reasons. The first is that it puts us in the shoes of Middle Eastern or Muslim people, even if it's in the shoes of people who are the equivalent to ISIS or ISIL, and it does a slightly better job at this than Homeland. It's slightly better meaning it helps us to understand them absent the religious motivations. It's more about social and geopolitical motivations, or deeply personal ones.

The second reason it's interesting is the fact that it has a gay character, which the show utilized in a weird way last season. Basically, the show last season forgot that the character was gay. Noah Silver plays Sammy Al-Fayeed, a white college student who happens to be related to the president of the Middle Eastern country, Abuddin. When Sammy first arrives in Abuddin in the first season, he immediately takes a liking to a young and handsome, Muslim boy named Abdul, played by Mehdi Dehbi. It ends badly, but the second season forgets that that even happened.

This third and current season has restored the character and has made Sammy a full-on gay dude again. This season, particularly Episode 4, Sammy has an affair with his seemingly married, Muslim teacher. His teacher is Professor Haitham El-Amin, played by Raphael Acloque. Haitham is not your typical professor. He's relatively young, probably mid-thirties, and has a European vibe to him, very sweet and very caring.

If this show is something to watch any more, since the best part of the show was killed off, it's only something because of Sammy's relationship with his professor. After only four episodes of this season, it will be curious to see where the relationship goes. Hopefully, it won't end in tragedy like Sammy's last relationship with a Muslim man. Also, hopefully, it will help Sammy to come out as gay to his family, his father in particular.

Adam Rayner stars as Barry Al-Fayeed, the father in question. A lot of critics hated the fact that Rayner is a white actor playing a Muslim character and not just Muslim but also he's playing an Arab. A lot of critics felt it was typical and horrible, Hollywood whitewashing. I would agree, but I didn't have a problem with it until now. It's only problematic now because the best part of the show and a large part of the show was Ashraf Barhom who played Barry's brother, Jamal Al-Fayeed. Barhom was the balance that made the show good, particularly in the first season where Barhom was strong and sexy, yet vulnerable and virulent.

Noah Silver in 'Tyrant'
Since the show killed off Jamal and that balance is gone, Rayner's character doesn't work as well. Barry as the center is not as compelling. I wait for the coming out scene between Barry and Sammy, but other than that, I don't care about Barry. It's baffling why he remains a character on the show, both functionally and narratively. It's stupid why his wife Molly, played by Jennifer Finnigan, chooses to stay in Abuddin, especially after last season's events.

The narrative otherwise is building toward an election in Abuddin. The show has introduced three candidates. One of whom is a woman, the former First Lady of Abuddin, Leila Al-Fayeed, played by Moran Atias. Her political manipulations and access to all of the country's powers are likely going to be why she wins. Yet, it's difficult for me to care because she bounced better off Jamal too like Barry.

Alexander Karim plays Ihab Rahim, the show's resident villain. He was interesting last season but now he's more of a one-note bad guy. He's way more complicated than he is sheer evil. He is a terrorist, but because the show doesn't emphasize his religious motivations, it's easier to relate to his terrorism, as horrible as that might be. Homeland did it, meaning it allowed us to empathize with a terrorist, so it's not so unusual.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-MA-LSV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Wednesdays at 10PM on FX.


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