Apologies, peeps—I’m a little behind on my TV watching. This one has already shown two episodes…whoops. Haha. Nonetheless, FX’s Tyrant was one I wanted to get around to checking out, as I mentioned in this write-up of summer TV. The premise sounded pretty interesting, and I’ve seen so many great things from FX that I thought this was sure to live up. So did it? Let’s talk about the particulars.
What I liked:
- Leading man Barry (Adam Rayner) is not bad to look at. Nope. Not at all. It’s those baby blues, man—they get me every time…Wow, I’m starting this off on a really superficial note, huh?
- Being set in a fictional country in the Middle East, this show has a really cool atmosphere. Barry’s family lives in a gorgeous palace, there’s a wedding scene with fireworks, there are big, group dances, etc. For many of us, it’s stepping into an exotic world.
- There’s an intense flashback scene that has a bit of a twist once you reach the end of it. It’ll make you wonder about a certain character, adding a new layer to his personality that you probably didn’t expect.
- The ending made me want to see more, which I’d say is a great thing for a new show. I mean, remember how I watched the True Blood premiere last week? I still haven’t watched the second episode because I’m kind of dreading it. Maybe TB could learn a thing or two from this one…
What I didn’t like:
- This is a small thing, but it bothered me: this show is 99.9% in English. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like that takes away some of the realism. I can understand the characters speaking English when Barry is around since he considers himself an American, but otherwise it’s kind of weird that there are only heavy accents and almost no trace of a Middle Eastern language.
- Some of these characters drove me nuts. Both of Barry’s kids are brats, Barry’s brother Jamal is an absolute psychopath, and Barry himself was so busy brooding the whole episode that I feel like I barely got to know what he’s actually like—unless he really is in a constant state of angst, in which case that’s going to get old fast.
- The dialogue is not great. There were so many times when I either predicted exactly what a character was going to say or I cringed because what a character was saying was just so damn melodramatic. Speaking of drama…
- This show is overly dramatic and heavy-handed. Plus, it has way too much going on for a premiere episode. That may seem like a lot to pack into one bullet point, but I feel like these problems all go together. We have so many extreme things thrown at us at once—people are shot in the street, women are raped, there are rumors of an upcoming terrorist attack, an important character very suddenly dies, and one character reveals himself to be gay in a place where it’s likely very dangerous to be. Like, woah. Tyrant is trying to be controversial and interesting, but by not taking its time to reveal these issues little by little and/or with some subtlety, it makes the show seem rushed and sloppy.
The Potential: Despite my criticism, I do think this show could turn into something good—it just has slow down, stop trying to shock us, and let us get to know the characters. I was frowning through most of this episode, but the end intrigued me enough to make me want to give episode two a shot. So we’ll see. I’m hoping this one improves because I think the premise is fascinating. But hey, if it doesn’t get better, it’s not like I don’t have enough other stuff to catch up on…
My Grade: C+