It's all too normal for American films and movies to represent the Middle East and North Africa in an orientalist and negative light.
And popular U.S. series Madam Secretary has just joined the bandwagon in a big way, portraying Algeria as a country on the edge of collapse led by a mad dictator with 11 wives ... and a mistress.
The series stars Tea Leoni as the U.S. Secretary of State. In recently released episode 2 of season 4, the U.S. needs to "save Algeria" and Leoni's character organizes a coup against the country's leader.
On social media, many Algerians have come out to critique and denounce the show's blatantly inaccurate representation of their country.
The show contrasts starkly with reality ... Algeria is a 'stable, calm and peaceful country'
"The representative of the Algerian government is dressed like a bimbo"
"Episode 2 of season 3 of Madam Secretary, which takes place in between Algeria and the United States, features Algeria on the verge of explosion because of Tindouf rebels and terrorists, and the president’s name is Haddad. He is treated like a mentally ill person, suffering from paranoia and instability. He has 11 wives. The representative of the Algerian government is dressed like a bimbo. The general “Mourad Cherat” negotiates with the Americans, makes a coup and Haddad is later tried in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
P.S. Haddad hangs Professor Arkoun.
P.P.S. In episode 5, there is an American intervention in Algeria with the blessing of the new president, after which they 'save' Algeria..."
Is this a "U.S. fantasy" or what?
"What a bad show"
Some are just calling it trash
This isn't the first time that Algeria has been the victim of serious misrepresentation from a Western television series, Middle East Eye points out.
The French TV show Le bureau des legendes in 2015 depicted a war between French and Algerian intelligence services. In 2016, the American series Designated Survivor showed the U.S. launching air raids on the country.
Relatedly, the U.S. TV series Homeland has been routinely cited for its significantly inaccurate portrayals of Arabs, Muslims, and countries in the Middle East. A 2012 episode of the series, which was supposed to take place in Lebanon, but was actually filmed in Israel, portrayed Beirut's busy Hamra commercial district as a desert bazaar full of terrorists.
In reality, Hamra is a street filled with Western brands such as Starbucks, H&M and American Eagle. Beirut's two prestigious American universities – Lebanese American University and the American University of Beirut – are both located just a few blocks from the street.
Jack Shaheen, a prominent Arab American writer and lecturer who died earlier this year, published a book called Reel Bad Arabs in 2001, which analyzed nearly 1,000 films and documented how they portray Arabs and Muslims as brutal, heartless, uncivilized others bent on terrorizing civilized Westerners.