EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

An ode to Emma Al-Fayeed, the Meg Griffin of 'Tyrant'

Tyrant‘s second season is great. I’d go so far as to say that it’s stellar, when compared to the uneveness of the first season. Most of the characters have clear goals and ambitions, and real emotional beats that are keeping me and the audience engaged.

But there’s a nagging spot in this season, and that rests with Bassam’s American family. Molly always seems like a stereotype of an Oprah-addicted soccer mom—and Sammy is a sterotype of an annoyingly self-centered teen. But I think the family would be a lot better off if they just listened to the one family member with the most common sense: Emma.

Yet somehow, Emma (played by Anne Winters) always gets the Meg Griffin treatment. She’s usually right, and in another show, her opinions would be welcomed. But in Tyrant, she gets blown off.

There were almost weekly examples of Emma being the smarter of the American Al-Fayeeds, starting with the pilot:

Emma seems to have enough sense to think that perhaps her dad has a good reason for not wanting to go back home. Unfortunately, no one listens to her, since her hesitation is wrapped up in self-absorbed tones and rhetoric that show she believes herself to be much more politically and socially savvy than she actually is.

And then later, in “Sins of the Father”:

Also, Emma really wants to go home. Her time at the club with Ahmed, Sammy, Abdul, and Nusrat was less than awesome. Ahmed, who suddenly became a jerk in this episode, treats Emma like an idiot just because she questioned his wealthy, irresponsible lifestyle. On top of that, she’s already irritated with Sammy for loving his privilege as “the grandchildren of a war criminal.” At the end of the episode, Emma is near tears, begging her mother to go home. All Molly can do is hug her. Hugs won’t buy plane tickets, Molly! Once again, Emma proves to be the smartest, most socially aware person in this family.

There are plenty more instances of Emma’s common sense getting drowned out by her family’s ridiculousness, such as in “Gone Fishing,” when Emma reluctantly agrees to go with her aunt Jenna to the local Abuddinian shopping district … even though they are all supposed to be on a plane at 10 a.m. or something. Even though Emma is clearly about waking up early and heading straight for the plane and get back to America and her life, Jenna nags her into accompanying her, which leads to Emma getting robbed.

Emma has had it worse this season, what with not getting an inheritance (even from what Molly should get from Bassam’s American life insurance, Emma should get some kind of benefits, right?) and being largely written out of any scene she’s in, with the excuse of “I need to go study” or something.

Why does Emma keep getting shafted? I could go into some kind of meta-character analysis, but let’s be real: The writers might not know what to do with her, especially since she seems to always voice the exact thing the audience wants to know, but the writers don’t have a clear answer to her questions. The main reason there isn’t ever a clear answer is because the answer would always impede with the stagnant plotting of the American side of this show. Example: this inheritance business. Emma has been asking all of the right questions about this inheritance, such as: What does it mean, where’s her cut, and why does Sammy get so much of it anyway. But for the most part, the dialogue from other characters has been, “Who cares! It’s creating drama! Now be quiet so we can advance this storyline without proper care of your valid questions!”

To me, it would seem like answering Emma’s questions would create drama. Instead of it being the drama of immediately getting back to Abuddin, it could be drama of figuring out just what the paperwork surrounding the inheritance entails, such as a nasty clause or forgery or writing Emma out of the will or something. Then the story could work at getting the characters back to Abuddin to sort all of this out. That’s just one suggestion; there’s plenty more drama that Emma’s questions could bring up, such as her reticence to go back. I doubt she’d want to leave home again; her irritation at the inheritance and having to go back to claim money that isn’t even promised to her could turn into an awesome explosion of anger from her toward Sammy and Molly. She’s got enough angst and trauma that hasn’t been addressed from the first season, and this inheritance problem could cause her to finally blow her top.

All of the kinks have been worked out on the Abuddinian side—we have interesting, thought-provoking character decisions, interpersonal conflicts, seamless introduction of new characters, and building familial and political drama. But that American side? Kinda boring. It’d be less boring if they let Emma express her reasonable outlook and challenge the wishy-washiness of her mother and the brattiness of her brother. Emma could very well become the “tyrant” of the American side of the family, and I’d be here for it. Just let her become that, writers. Give her that chance!

Of course, all of this wishing could come true next season (if there is one, that is). Most of the writing for this season is probably done, unless there are quick rewrites (ala Sleepy Hollow‘s second season), in which Hawley, Henry, and Katrina were quickly (and thankfully) written out to bring the show back to a certain level of stasis. Either way, let’s hope that Emma soon gets her moment to shine and finally right the sinking ship that is her family. She can’t remain the Meg Griffin all season—what’s the point of having the character around if she isn’t going to be used?

What do you think about Emma? Are you annoyed that she keeps having to “study”? Give me your opinions below!

Tyrant airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on FX.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like