FX Drama 'Tyrant' Is New In Town, But What Exactly Is It About?

Going off of FX's omnipresent but infuriatingly vague promotional teasers for Tyrant , you'd be forgiven if you thought the network's new show was a documentary about the ecological threat posed by sandstorms. Or the next miniseries in the Dune franchise. Or a live-action remake of Aladdin. (That dude is totally looking for the Cave Of Wonders, right?) Turns out, Tyrant is about none of these things, however awesome they may have been. So what is it about? Let's see what FX itself has to say about their newest show:

Tyrant tells the story of an unassuming American family drawn into the inner workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. Bassam "Barry" Al-Fayeed, the youngest son of a war-torn country's controversial dictator, returns to his homeland after a self-imposed 20-year exile in America for his nephew's wedding. Upon his return, Barry is immediately thrown back into the familial and national politics of his youth.

The show takes place in the fictional country of Abbudin, where our hero Barry will encounter all sorts of shady characters from his past, including his charismatic brother Jamal, their domineering mother Amira, Jamal's ambitious wife Leila, and his former best friend Fauzi, now a reporter who was kidnapped and tortured by Barry's family. (That'll make for an awkward high school reunion.)

When one thinks of television shows centered around events in the Middle East, Showtime's Homeland is probably the first to jump to most people's minds. And that's no coincidence: Tyrant was created by Gideon Raff and developed by Howard Gordon, who are also the creative minds behind Homeland. (Gordon is also well known as the showrunner of 24 in its final four seasons.) Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Life Of Pi, Brokeback Mountain) was originally attached to direct the pilot episode, but had to drop out due to personal reasons — he was replaced by David Yates (Harry Potters 5-8). Raff sold Tyrant to FX in December of 2012, after the network outbid both HBO and Showtime for the rights to the series. FX must have been pleased to attain Raff's latest property — the network had preciously passed on Homeland, a decision the execs probably regretted in retrospect.

It will be interesting to see how well Raff, Gordon, and FX handle the touchy subject of Middle Eastern politics. Having their show take place in a fictional country allows them a certain amount of wiggle room, but the intricacies of the region are still delicate and will require sensitive handling. Hopefully the writers are able to craft a deft and intriguing drama that both contains compelling characters and tackles topical issues. If the network's previous experience adapting the tangled relationships between America and its enemies to television is any indication (as exemplified by the terrific Cold War espionage thriller The Americans ), viewers shouldn't have too much to worry about.

Get ready for the series premiere this Tuesday night with this slightly more informative first look:


Images: FX (2)