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So What’s The Deal With FX’s New Show ‘Tyrant’ Anyway?

By / 04.17.14

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Perhaps you, like me, were watching the series premiere of Fargo this week and noticed this vague, mysterious teaser clip for a new FX series called Tyrant. “What the hell is Tyrant?” you probably thought. “Is it, as the teaser seems to imply, a show about a well-dressed man who rules over a totally uninhabited desert and spends all day walking around, picking up sand, and watching it blow away?” Well, no. That would be incredibly boring. And he would die of dehydration after like two episodes, which would really put a damper on Season 2.

So no, that is not what Tyrant is. Instead, it’s this, via Deadline:

Tyrant tells the story of an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. Bassam “Barry” Al Fayeed (Adam Rayner), the younger son of the dictator of a war-torn nation, ends a self-imposed 20-year exile to return to his homeland, accompanied by his American wife and children, for his nephew’s wedding. Barry’s reluctant homecoming leads to a dramatic clash of cultures as he is thrown back into the familial and national politics of his youth.

Unlike the other big fancy new series FX is rolling out over the next few months, the previously discussed Fargo and Guillermo del Toro’s much-hyped vampire drama The Strain, Tyrant is a wholly original project from Gideon Raff, who created the Israeli series Prisoners of War, which was the inspiration for Homeland. And speaking of Homeland, the series will be co-executive produced by Howard Gordon of Homeland and 24, as well as Craig Wright from Dirty Sexy Money.

Indiewire has a nice write-up about the show, too, which provides more background about how it came to be, as well as its fictional setting.

The fictional country of Baladi is deliberately made up of mixed elements from a few different real countries so that it doesn’t come across as a stand-in for a particular nation or situation. The producers also said they are going to steer clear of naming particular sects or clans while pulling from real details, with Gordon saying “we do want to stay away from reality and yet hew to it as long as sort of it feels emotionally correct and culturally correct. I think we’re going to try to stay away from names as much as possible.” The character of John Tucker (Ed. note – a U.S. diplomat to Baladi played by Weeds alum Justin Kirk) is also intended to be a way to deal with complicated themes — “one of the things we want to do is not be reductive but also honor the complexities of and the folly of American policy,” Gordon said, “and the law of unintended consequences makes for very good drama.” With Tucker, he explained, “we’re going to be equal opportunity offenders.”

So there you go. Tyrant is an original series about interfamilial and geopolitical struggles in a fictional country located in the real Middle East, from the people who brought you 24 and Homeland. That sounds way more interesting than that “guy wandering around the desert and dying” show you were thinking it was. You big dummy.

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