Why it matters that FX’s ‘Tyrant’ didnt cast a Middle Eastern actor in its lead role

Why it matters that FX’s ‘Tyrant’ didnt cast a Middle Eastern actor in its lead role

Check out this Hit Fix article on new FX show Tyrant and the writer’s concerns about the lead actor, playing a Middle Eastern character, being cast as white.

That, friends, is why it is important that FX is premiering a new drama on Tuesday night in which the main character is an assimilated Middle Eastern man who leaves behind his life in the West and returns to the fictional nation ruled by his family.At least as a log-line, the part of Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed in FX’s “Tyrant” may not be unprecedented, but it represents a big enough deviation from the Hollywood norm and from the mainstream TV norm that it’s notable and worth discussion. And that’s why it’s not an insignificant problem that this role, this trailblazing step in Middle Eastern representation is being played by Adam Rayner, an English-born actor who is half-British, half-American and not Middle Eastern in the slightest.

[…]

In “Tyrant,” Al-Fayeed’s mother is, indeed, played by Alice Krige. That the potentate of a fictional Middle Eastern country was married to a white woman and had multiple children with her seems like something at least semi-worthy of discussion to me, but it’s never addressed in the first four episodes of “Tyrant.” Her mere presence is mostly an excuse for allowing Adam Rayner to play Bassam Al-Fayeed, as if casting an actor with no Middle Eastern heritage in TV’s only top-of-the-call-sheet Middle Eastern role would be bad, but casting an actor with no Middle Eastern heritage in TV’s only top-of-the-call-sheet *half* Middle Eastern role is totally halal. 

#sigh Even when roles are written for diverse characters, they find a way to make it acceptable to cast white instead of searching for someone with a more ethnic background.

 

You should definitely click through for more, because if I copy and pasted all of the really good points, I would just be copying the whole article. Check it out.

via Why it matters that FX’s ‘Tyrant’ didnt cast a Middle Eastern actor in its lead role.

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A writers’ room of N.Y.’s own – Times Union

A writers’ room of N.Y.’s own – Times Union
Check out this brief article on the lack of NYC writers’ rooms, despite more shows being shot here. I definitely wish there were more opportunities for tv writers in NYC, as that’s where I live. Hopefully we can get more here. Until I can write and produce my own NYC based (and set, because not enough NY set shows are actually shot in NY–those alleys, those fake trains…smh) hit TV series.

But it may spur more studios to at least consider locating their writers’ rooms here, and to hire a more diverse staff—writers who look and sound like New York, and like America.

 

Article Response: Whitewashed TV isn’t just racist. It’s boring! – Salon.com

In James Cameron’s “Avatar,” a white man once again plays savior, this time to a planet of tall blue aliens unambiguously suggestive of Native Americans. What if they’d cast Michelle Rodriguez, who plays a stereotypical no-nonsense doomed Latina side character, in the lead role instead of Sam Worthington? The context of an interesting movie about race is already in place. Without a single word changed in the script, “Avatar” would have taken on layers of new meaning, opened conversations that mainstream, white cinema has not even approached. […] Instead, though, we’re left with a cliché: the same old really nice white dude, filling a void in himself by appropriating and then saving another culture. What we could’ve had was something new: a story of intersectionality and solidarity across interplanetary colonialism.

via Whitewashed TV isn’t just racist. It’s boring! – Salon.com.

YES THIS ALL OF THIS!

There is constant complaining about the same old stories being told, especially in Hollywood. A very, very simple solution to spice those same old stories up, is to cast PoCs as the main characters. Then it becomes something new that we haven’t seen before.

The article speaks heavily of Sleepy Hollow; if Abbie had been a white guy, it would have been sooo boring–kind of how Almost Human felt to me. Karl Urban being the primary lead was boring. What if they’d switched the roles and Michael Ealy was the human, Urban the robot? Then it might have been a different story. I haven’t seen past episode 3, so I don’t know if Michael Ealy’s character has to deal with race at all in the futuristic world of the show, but it would have been prudent to introduce it in the first three episodes, since him being cast as a black man is a big deal in the real world. But since it wasn’t really mentioned at all, I think I got bored (for forgot to set my DVR to record all…) and wasn’t interested in coming back. I don’t need race to be a discussion, but it shouldn’t be glossed over. (this isn’t even what I started to talk about after I mentioned Sleepy Hollow above…)

It is so simple to change the dynamics of the same old stories we’ve heard before by changing the racial and sometimes gender identities of the characters. I don’t watch Elementary, but it took guts to cast an Asian woman as Watson, and look how that turned out for them. The show is great. They knew they couldn’t follow in the wake of Sherlock, so they changed the story in a very simple way to make it more interesting to people who have seen Sherlock and the RDJ Sherlock Holmes movies and might be bored with the same old “two white guys solve crimes” story.