Tag Archives: Sibylla Deen

Monique Talks “Tyrant” Deaths on Entertainment Weekly Community Blog

THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE, SO BE CAREFUL. 

There were a LOT of deaths in just the first three episodes of Season 3 of Tyrant, right? So many that many fans are wondering if they were even necessary. The fandom has taken the death of Season 2 insta-fave Rami particularly hard, since Rami seemed like a great candidate for President, and he’s just a good guy who came from humble beginnings. I was bummed like the rest of the fans, but I’ve also talked with Keon Alexander, who played Rami, for the Entertainment Weekly community, and we discussed in-depth his process for getting into Rami’s head. It seemed he really enjoyed playing Rami, and because there was so much that could be mined from the character, I expected Rami to be around for several seasons, not just one season and two episodes of the next. SIGH.

Here’s what I wrote about Rami in this week’s Tyrant catch-up article, “‘Tyrant’ season 3 recap: Three episodes, four bombshell moments”:

“…Rami — poor, noble, kind-hearted Rami — had no one crying over him. POURQUOI??? WHY DID RAMI HAVE TO DIE?

I was still waiting on Rami to magically appear, laid up in a hospital with the outside world believing he was dead when he was only badly wounded, but such a scene never came. Instead, after Rami sacrificed himself to save Molly and Emma from the Caliphate ambush, we get one scene with the head of the military telling Bassam that Emma is kidnapped and Rami has died — and that’s it, really. No finding his body, no honorable burial, no nothing! I’m not the only one who’s upset; the Internet has been ablaze with fans and critics alike trying to figure out why Rami was killed. For what reason? What added stakes did it provide? Couldn’t Rami be a superhero and escape certain death just like Bassam? Rami’s certainly more honorable than Bassam! As Peach the starfish said in Finding Nemo, “Isn’t there another way? He’s just a boy!”

SIGH. I’ll be pouring some out for you, Rami. Rest in peace. Or better yet, maybe you’re alive in an alternate dimension, as the benevolent President of Abbudin.”

Tyrant-S3-Rami

I was also particularly bummed about Nusrat. I realized after I had my latest Entertainment Weekly Community post published that I didn’t write enough on why I felt Nusrat’s death wasn’t warranted at all. First of all, Nusrat should be hailed as a hero for saving Abbudin from a despot. Rami told her the folks outside the palace did see her as such. So why kill her off, writers? Is it because she could have been Daliyah’s rival for the “Mother of the Revolution” title? Did Sibylla Deen simply want to leave, and there wasn’t a cleaner way to remove her character from the show? I want answers, and currently, I feel like Kanye West on Sway’s radio show.

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Nusrat has been the most abused person on this show, starting with the very first episode. It seems especially cruel that she would be killed after everything she’s endured. Did her life mean nothing? I mean, I get a show is supposed to have tragedy, but is everything bad supposed to happen exclusively to one character? I think Nusrat should have gotten a break for once in her life. Like, after leaving the mental institution Bassam had ordered her to, she could have come out and continued to plan her revenge on the Al-Fayeed family. She would have become a great character due to her mission to avenge her family and unborn child. In a way, Nusrat’s death reminds me of Abbie’s death in that it didn’t really serve the story except to get rid of a character.

The next gut-wrenching  moment for me was when dear Emma got killed. I was hoping for something to come of Emma’s character this season, because I wrote last season how she has been the most neglected character, despite being the one of the few characters who actually utilizes their common sense on a day-to-day basis. Emma’s desires are simple, but always ignored: She wants to live a normal life in California like she used to. Instead, her parents, her dad in particular, got her killed. I write in this week’s post that Emma’s death is on Bassam’s hands.

Tyrant-S3-Emma

I forgot that there was another, more intimate reason as to why Bassam’s actions led to his daughter’s death. The only reason Ihab Rashid is trying to bring Bassam down right now is because Bassam killed Samira. Ihab wants to make Bassam pay. Which leads to the biggest question I have in these few episodes: WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU RELEASE A MAN WHO WANTS TO DESTROY YOU?! Look, I get Bassam’s “forgiveness commission” in theory. But seriously, Bassam, you’re ruling an unstable land with tons of people who want the title of President. You’re going to start being soft-bellied now that you’re at the top?! Don’t be foolish, Bassam. Be ruthless like you’ve been in the past.

Anyways, you can read my full thoughts on these three episodes at the Entertainment Weekly Community!

The Biggest TV Events of 2015: “Tut” and “The Wiz Live!”

2015 was the year of TV specials, such as History’s Texas Rising (which was, to use a buzzword, problematic for me), Sons of Liberty, and Saints and Strangers (which, from the commercials at least, also looked like it had its moments of historical propaganda).  But, there were two specials that stood out, at least for this writer. Tut and The Wiz Live! were what TV specials should aspire to in this day and age. Why? Let’s take a look.

Why Tut was great: This year is supposed to be the year in which I use a lot less “I” in my posts, but I have to break my rule for just a second and put in some personal opinion; I’ve wanted to see a proper dramatization of Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s reign for decades, which means, I’ve wanted that for most of my life. After seeing the travesty that was Exodus: Gods and Kings come to theaters, I was especially ready for a Tut movie or TV show (or anything concerning ancient Egypt) that actually cast non-white actors. I was robbed when FOX killed Hieroglpyh, but I was appeased and delighted when I learned about and later watched Tut. 

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Spike’s Tut, starring Avan Jogia, Ben Kingsley, and Sibylla Deen, was a boon for the network, and it was a joy to watch. Everyone gave stellar performances, and for me, the breakout star was Jogia, who proved he’s got leading man material. To quote part of my review:

It’s really Jogia’s shoulders that the film rests on, and he plays the part of a boy maturing into a seasoned, slightly jaded king exceptionally well. Perhaps you slept on his talent when he was in ABC Family’s teen soap Twisted. Perhaps you didn’t watch Victorious because you’d grown out of Nickelodeon dramas. If you weren’t aware of Jogia’s talent before, Tut will show you that Jogia’s not someone who’s cut from the same tween star cloth as some of his other contemporaries. His capabilities for drama and action not only relay his maturity and awareness, but also show how ready he is for the movies. Movie studios: if you’re still doing those same outdated practices of casting only white actors because you think they’re the only ones capable of being thought of as a leading man, you’re doing everyone, including yourselves, a great disservice, since Jogia should be on every casting director’s “leading man” list.

The most important part was that there wasn’t a white actor portraying a non-white character. Again, to quote my review:

Films that are set in either ancient Egyptian or biblical times are some of the films Hollywood loves to whitewash the most. I give some reasons as to why I think that is, but just a quick summation: Hollywood is still behind the times when it comes to casting. It still acts as if it’s still in the golden age of Hollywood, when a large majority of America was white and wanted to see only white faces instead of the diversity that existed around them in America and in the world (something Comics Alliance’s Andrew Wheeler points out in his takedown of the comic book movie and racial diversity).

Tut does an exceptional job at casting people who aren’t white. I know some people have said they feel the casting should have been of darker people. To that criticism, I say, “I understand.” But from my point of view, Tut gives us a vision of Egypt that’s closer to the truth than Exodus and other films like it have ever done. I’m extremely proud of how Tut decided to cast against Hollywood “business-as-usual” methodology. More than likely, I’ll have posts about this later, but for now, here’s my handclap for Tut‘s casting department.

As I addressed in the blockquote, there are some who are irritated that actual Egyptian actors weren’t cast for this film and some would say that this miniseries is just as whitewashed as Exodus for that reason. I’d say that while they aren’t Egyptian, let’s not compare Tut to something like Exodus, which went out of its way to copy the whitewashed biblical epics of the 1950s. Tut’s casting department did what casting departments should always do, and that’s cast non-white actors for non-white characters. And, Tut proved that stories featuring non-white figures, including dramatizations of historical characters, can and will bring in audiences, especially those thirsting to see themselves on screen.

Want to read more about Into the Badlands and Mr. Robot? Read the inaugural issue of COLOR BLOCK Magazine!

Why The Wiz Live! was great: The Wiz Liveis NBC’s first successful live musical event, and good for it, because it had a ton of expectation riding on it. In short, the direction by Kenny Leon (who was revealed in the making-of special to be a taskmaster in the best way), the talent, featuring Ne-Yo, David Alan Grier, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Elijah Kelley, Amber Riley, Stephanie Mills, Uzo Aduba, Cirque du Soleil, tons of dancers, and newcomer Shanice Williams, and the set design and use of the stage combined into truly magical entertainment.

It was fantastic to see black representation on this apologetic of a scale. In a way, the production plays on the core tenet of Afrofuturism; that blackness is defined by black people only, not by the society in which black people exist at present. Within Afrofuturism, black people aren’t “black people.” They’re just people, defined by their circumstances, just like how every white person in every movie and TV show is defined.

The Wiz Live! - Season 1

It was also a historical production on account of the first showcase of ballroom culture on standard television. The gay ballroom scene has still remained underground, despite some of the dancers featured in The Wiz Live!, Dashaun Wesley, Danielle Polanco and Carlos Irizarry, being dancing legends in their own rights (as well as working choreographers) and despite pop culture’s penchant for lifting heavily from gay club culture. But famed choreographer Fatima Robinson brought the ballroom to mainstream America in the most creative and funky way; by making The Emerald City one big ballroom. (Also amazing: seeing Queen Latifah’s Wiz as a drag king, which was the icing on the Emerald City cake.) Between seeing Williams’ star born right on their screens, Uzo Aduba inspiring all of us to believe in ourselves, and being bowled over by the surprise of The Emerald City, Twitter was on fire with people tweeting about how much the amount of representation present in The Wiz Live! spoke to them.

What did you think of these specials? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

"Tyrant" Season Two Quick Thoughts: Ahmed's Sad Song Playlist + Burkina Faso Enters the Fray

First, apologies for not being on COLOR for two days straight. Real life started knocking last Saturday, and it’s been presenting issues ever since, so I had to take care of life. Life is currently giving me a break to write this post.

Second, I had a cool interview with Rami himself, Keon Alexander! You can read the full post at the Entertainment Weekly Community, but here’s a snippet of our conversation: