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‘Tyrant’ Reviews: Is New Middle East Drama As Intense As ‘Homeland’?

Wed, June 25, 2014 1:56pm EDT by HL Intern 5 Comments
Courtesy Of FX

‘Tyrant’ premiered on June 24, and critics are hooked — this is just the beginning of an engrossing new hit. The first episode is gripping, loaded with suspense and leaves the audience longing for more. Will it be just as intense as ‘Homeland’ or ’24’?

In the opening minutes of FX’s Tyrant from Homeland and 24 producer Howard Gordon, we meet Barry (Adam Rayner), a Middle Eastern man who is the son of a dictator. He left his home in Abbudin to attend boarding school in the United States, at just 16 years old, because he was ashamed to be part of his family of oppressors. When he finally returns to his country, mayhem ensues. Read on to see what the critics are saying in our review roundup!

‘Tyrant’: What The Critics Are Saying About FX’s Drama

After fleeing his family for boarding school in the States, Barry never returned to his Middle East homeland, and instead, went on to make a life for himself in Los Angeles. He grows into a mild mannered and attentive pediatrician who marries a blond American doctor, Molly (Jennifer Finnigan), and fathers two teenagers, a cranky daughter Emma (Anne Winters) and a fun-loving, gay son Sammy (Noah Silver).

The show’s premise is based on Barry reluctantly heading back to home for his nephew’s wedding and the reunion is far from happy. With a dictator father and a monster older brother who believes in beating, raping and killing of others, there is bound to be some trouble unfolding in the upcoming episodes. But should you stick with the series?

‘Tyrant’ Premieres To Positive Reviews: ‘Engrossing,’ ‘Compelling’ & ‘Dark’

Boston Herald:

Tyrant is the most engrossing new show of the summer….[Howard] Gordon’s razor-sharp timing, a skill honed on 24, serves Tyrant well.”

Entertainment Weekly:

“The pilot’s final scene hints that we might get to see Bassam devolve in a similar way, which would be compelling to watch. With so much attention focused on this American series set in the Middle East, Tyrant is already an important show. Now it just has to prove that it’s also a good one.”


“More than most pilots, Tyrant’s first hour is all preamble — the necessary buildup and narrative contortions to establish its provocative if implausible premise. As such, it’s a solid but not particularly distinguished effort, one that requires a significant suspension of disbelief to explore its insights about the Middle East, and the nature of the strongmen who have held sway there. In that respect, this handsome-looking FX drama from the producers of Homeland is perhaps a logical companion to that series, but at least in its initial incarnation, not a fully worthy heir.”

NY Daily News:

“New FX series has great potential with story of Middle Eastern despot and his family, starring Adam Rayner, Raad Rawi and Jennifer Finnigan…If you can gulp hard and swallow the premise of Tyrant, you’ll find another hard, dark, intense FX drama about a world in which a lot of the normal rules don’t seem to apply. Think Sons of Anarchy where the club meets in a multizillion-dollar gilded Middle Eastern palace instead of a gutted ice cream shop.”

Chicago Sun Times:

“The pilot is riveting but, like our protagonist Barry, a bit joyless. Here’s hoping the series doesn’t collapse under the weight of its own gravitas; it’s a compelling premise that plays out in a part of the world not often seen on TV.”

HollywoodLifers, did you watch the premiere of Tyrant? If you did, let us know if you’re longing for more!

— Brittany King

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