FX’s intense drama “Tyrant” goes to cool, dark places

Tyrant FX Ryan Berenz

Going back home turns out to be a terrible idea for one man in FX’s new 10-part drama series Tyrant (premiering Tuesday, June 24, at 10pm ET/PT).

For the past 20 years, Bassam Al Fayeed (Adam Rayner) has been Barry, a respected Los Angeles pediatrician who lives modestly with his wife, Molly (Jennifer Finnigan), and two teenage children. Before coming to America, he was the son of a Middle Eastern dictator, and bore witness to the terrible lengths his father would go to maintain his grip on power. Barry’s self-imposed exile ends when he reluctantly takes his family on a trip to attend his nephew’s opulent wedding. But while there, fate intervenes. His father’s poor health, his brother Jamal’s (Ashraf Barhom) cruel nature and the nation’s increasing political discord converge with dangerous consequences for Barry and his family.

“Barry has assimilated fully into American life,” Rayner says of his character. “He’s a doctor. He has a beautiful wife. He has kids. As he is drawn back into his former life, you begin to see that that is not the whole story and he has a darker side to him.”

Tyrant creator Gideon Raff (creator of the Israeli series that inspired Showtime’s Homeland) drew from Arab Spring movements and recent upheaval in the Middle East. It was a TV report on atrocities committed by Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad that sparked the story in Raff’s mind.

“I was thinking that just a few years earlier, everybody was so happy that [al-Assad], educated in the West, married to a British woman, is coming to replace his father,” Raff remembers. “And I thought he probably misses his life in London now very much. And I thought, ‘How do you go from being that to being hailed a mass killer?’ And that journey was really, really interesting to me.”

Tyrant FX

Photo: © 2014, FX Networks. All rights reserved. Credit: Patrick Harbron/FX

About Ryan Berenz 2016 Articles
Devotee of Star Wars. Builder of LEGO. Observer of televised sports. Member of the Television Critics Association. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Connoisseur of beer. Consumer of cheese. Father of two. Husband of one. Scourge of the Alaskan Bush People. Font of Simpsons knowledge. Son of a Stonecutter.