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you tweeted something earlier about the new show 'tyrant' and i'm curious about whether that's how it really happened from Anonymous


Ummm…is that how what really happened?

Tyrant is a television show. It’s a good television show and I’m a big fan (and I’ve even come around on the guy playing “Bassam”/”Barry”), but it’s fiction. There is no country called Abbudin that really exists. There is no son of a former Middle Eastern dictator who moved to California as a teenager to get away from the drama back home, became a pediatrician in Los Angeles, returned home for his father’s funeral., and then started planning a coup to remove his unstable brother and take power himself. That’s just the storyline of a television show that is on FX on Tuesdays.

There is one element of the show’s premise which might be influenced by actual events, though. Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria as a brutal dictator for nearly 30 years until his death in 2000. Hafez Assad had been planning on his eldest son, Bassel, succeeding him as Syria’s leader and Bassel’s experience was preparing him for that role. But Bassel was killed in a car wreck in 1994, and Hafez Assad had to begin preparing another son — Bashar — to eventually assume power. Bashar al-Assad didn’t have the political training or the extensive military background of his brother; instead, he had studied medicine and was an ophthalmologist. So, that could be part of the inspiration for the background of Bassam/Barry al-Fayeed in Tyrant.

(And a real-life model for the character of “Jamal” — the heavy-handed, unstable leader of Abbudin and brother of “Bassam”/”Barry” — seems like it must have been Uday Hussein. If you haven’t seen Tyrant on FX, Ashraf Barhom’s work as Jamal al-Fayeed is reason enough to check out the show. He’s been fantastic in every scene of every episode of the series.)