Samo Says…My Friend doesn’t get FX’s Tyrant is a TV Show

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Jamal (Ashraf Barhom) and Berry (Adam Rayner) in FX's Tyrant

Jamal (Ashraf Barhom) and Berry (Adam Rayner) in FX’s Tyrant


Everyone has a different perspectives on the external world. What is orthodox for one person can be viewed as insanity for another. Also, what is meant to be thought provoking or in the case of Tyrant, “shocking” to an American audience is was quite different for those of us with Middle Eastern lineage.

My viewing reaction was far different than those of my Anglo-Saxon friend. Last night I received a phone call from my “liberal” and “understanding” friend as to how stereotypical and racist the show is. I was puzzled by the call because I don’t think she realized it is just a TV show and not a documentary. This is how the call went down.

Phone call:

Friend: Hey, did you watch Tyrant?

Me: Yeah, it was pretty good. The Palestinian guy (Ashraf Barhom…he’s actually Arab-Israeli) plays Jamal really well.

Friend: Wait, what? You didn’t think it was racist?

Me: Huh? What racism? It’s depicts a dictator and mixes several Middle Eastern and world leaders into these characters. The White guy playing Berry is clearly inspired by King Abdullah of Jordan. His mother is British as well and lived in England for most of his life, until his father died.

Friend: Okay…well, I don’t know how you didn’t find it racist or misogynistic. As a Muslim you should be offend.

Me: I’m not Muslim. You’d think the big gold cross would having given it away.”

Friend: Well…you know what I mean!

Me: No, I don’t.

Friend: Well, they are the same race as you…I mean you’re all Arabs.

Me: I’m not an Arab and Muslims aren’t a race; they are followers of Islam, it’s a religion. I’m Assyrian and Lebanese. Assyrians, like Jews are a completely different group of Semitic people and Lebanese are decedents of the Phoenicians who came over from Crete, so technically, I’m Semitic and Greek.

Friend: Wait, you said you were Iranian and Lebanese, doesn’t that make you half Persian?

Me: Would you have known who the Assyrians were if I told you? Dad was born in Iran, that makes us Iranian by nationality. There are Persians, Assyrians, Armenians, Azaris and several other ethnic groups in Iran. You know, like America.

Friend: Uh, yeah…but…uh…can you believe he hit his son in front of everyone!?!

Me: That’s what he gets for talking back to his father over there.

Friend: OMG! You are okay with that!?!

Me: It’s a TV show and he’s the son of a DICTATOR, what did you expect, a hug? The son will be dead by the end of the season. Him and the boyfriend.

Friend: Uh, you’re so homophobic!

Me: What homophobia? If they are going to pull from Sharia Law and tyrannical nations, the boy will either be hung, stoned or shot in the head by his own father. The wife is going to get smacked in the mouth too.

Friend: I can’t believe what I’m hearing!

Me: It’s a TV show. It’s made to shock people — like you.

Friend: Hey! But…I mean…look how they depict YOUR people! It’s offensive.

Me: My family were either farmers or engineers, not dictators. Why should I be offended?

Friend: You mean to tell me, you weren’t shocked at all, even in the opening scene where he (Jamal) raped that woman while her family sat in the living room?

Me: No. I was thinking, ‘Hey, that was taken from The Epic of Gilgamesh,’ many dictators have done that throughout the centuries.

Friend: What?

Me: In the Epic of Gilgamesh it said that as the king of Ur he was able to have relations with the bride on her wedding night even before her husband. Jamal did the same thing later in the episode to his daughter in law.

Friend: Uh, that’s gross. I can’t believe you’re so indifferent.

Me: It’s a TV show.

Friend: But it’s based on reality.

Me: No it’s not, it’s inspired by several world leaders throughout the centuries who weren’t all Middle Eastern. It’s called entertainment.

Nasser Faris, Alice Krige, Ashraf Barhom, Moran Atias, Adam Rayner, Anne Winters, Jennifer Finnigan and Noah Silver. Cast of Tyrant.

Nasser Faris, Alice Krige, Ashraf Barhom, Moran Atias, Adam Rayner, Anne Winters, Jennifer Finnigan and Noah Silver. Cast of Tyrant.

Friend: All right, Captain Apathy. What do you think is going to happen with this show?

Me: Easy. Jamal and Berry are going to reconnect, but Jamal’s jealousy will lead to a conflict in season two, forcing Berry to kill him. Sammy (Noah Silver) is going to hook up with his palace guard. The guy will be shot in the head while they are in bed and Sammy will get the sh*t beat out of him by his father’s guards for shaming the family. Emma (Anne Winters) will embrace her role as princess, seduce many men, then kill the ones that displease her. Again, like in the Epic of Gilgamesh when he rejected the advances of the goddess Ishtar and she made his life miserable. Only Ishtar couldn’t kill Gilgamesh because he was two-thirds god, one-third man.

Molly (Jennifer Finnigan) is going to get popped in the mouth for pushing and nagging Berry way too much, because after 20 years she doesn’t understand that if a Middle Eastern person gets mad and yells, we’ll be fine in five minutes, but if we get mad and quiet, leave us alone or else you’re not going to like the reaction when we go off. The Queen Mother (Alice Krige) is going to groom Molly to be as stoic and indifferent as her, learning her role as queen, then eventually committing suicide, because she’s a shrink with a guilty conscious.

Friend: You got that all from one episode?

Me: Yes. It’s a TV Show. It’ll probably go two, three season, max. If they push it any longer it will get more ridiculous than Revenge.

Friend: You watch Revenge?

Me: Mom does and I’ll watch it with her sometimes.

Friend: Well, I don’t know what to tell you.

Me: That I watch TV with mom sometimes? God forbid I like my family.

Friend: NO! That you are so indifferent about this show.

Me: I’m Middle Eastern. Nothing’s changed for 10,000 years of recorded history. Welcome to civilization.

Friend: That’s not civilized!

Me: That’s a matter of perspective.

Friend: I can’t even talk to you when you’re like this!

Me: Like what?

Friend: THIS!

Me: Sorry, but you projecting your skewed worldviews on me over a TV show didn’t fulfill your agenda to tell your other “liberal” friends that you had a Sand Monkey support your anger.

Friend: You’re an a**hole.

Me: And you’re a closet racist hiding behind political correctness.

Friend: UHHH! Why do I bother talking to you?

Me: Because you need a minority in your life to prove to other White you aren’t racist.

Friend: I’m hanging up now.

Me: Okay, talk to you later.


  1. Heather June 26, 2014 Reply
  2. Rob June 25, 2014 Reply

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