TV Review: FX’s ‘Tyrant’

Middle Eastern drama from Howard Gordon premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m.
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FX premieres Tyrant, its controversial Godfather-inspired political drama set in a fictional Middle Eastern country, Tuesday, June 24 at 10 p.m. The series has experienced a revolving door of talent, losing both creator Gideon Raff, a Homeland producer, and Oscar winning director Ang Lee. Homeland and 24 producer Howard Gordon is showrunner. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

"Tyrant simply lurches around, welding terror-thriller hyperviolence to rote political intrigue to telenovela rich-family dysfunction. And if Tyrant is meant to expand on the portrayals of the Middle Easterners peripheral to stories like 24, it fails badly."
—James Poniewozik, TIME

"The problem is that so far they're stock characters. Maybe that's an unfortunate side effect of setting the show in Abbudin, a distant desert land that seems to borrow its real-life events from Egypt, Syria, and Libya. When you give your country a fake Middle Eastern name, you risk turning it into a stand-in for all Middle Eastern countries."
—Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

"And there's part of the trouble: Too many things that happen in tonight's premiere seem to stem not from character but from the need to generate enough storylines and conflict to sustain a series."
—Robert Bianco, USA Today

"It’s certainly provocative and complex, particularly given its ambition and scope, not to mention the foreign location and politically-charged backdrop for the Godfather-style premise."
—Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

"There’s a good show buried within Tyrant, one that occasionally emerges in the first four episodes, when it focuses on the relationship between [brothers] Bassam and Jamal, or turns its eye toward Fauzi’s struggles, or even just takes time to observe two mural painters attempting to get by in their day-to-day lives. But it’s too often subsumed by the show’s desire to make a grand statement and its inability to realize that often gets in the way of just telling a compelling story."
—Todd VanDerWerff, A.V. Club

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