The protagonist of FX’s new series Tyrant is Dr. Barry Al Fayeed (Adam Rayner), an Arab-American doctor living in California with his blond-haired American wife and two teenage kids. After nearly 20 years of living the American dream, he’s called back to his Middle Eastern birthplace, a fictional country called “Abbudin,” where his dictator father (Raad Rawi) and older brother (Ashraf Barhom) rule the land.
The pilot of Tyrant is receiving mixed reviews. For those not accustomed to watching several rape scenes in one hour, it’s not easy to watch. (The older brother, Jamal, is a rapist.) Some say Jamal’s sexual assaults are “used as plot devices.” Some say the characters are boring. Most critics agree it’s a good premise for a show, but they’re also being asked to monitor the show for potential stereotyping by The Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, the same organization that had ABC Family pull the plug on its pilot Alice in Arabia. Regarding the pilot of FX’s Tyrant: “Arab Muslim culture is devoid of any redeeming qualities and is represented by terrorists, murderous children, rapists, corrupt billionaires and powerless female victims,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “In ‘Tyrant,’ even the ‘good’ Arab Muslims are bad.”