I blogged about Hugo Blick’s BBC drama The Honourable Woman, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, here, when it screened in the UK last year.
Personally, I enjoyed the series for its pace, style, and complex female characters, even if I found it ultimately unenlightening on questions of Middle East politics, and was less than impressed by its uniformly negative representations of Palestinians.
That review is here.
Since then, the series has been widely exported around the world (perhaps notably, the press release doesn’t list sales to any Arab countries) and is about to be shown on Israeli television.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has published a pre-review of the series, and it’s interesting to read a perspective on Blick’s drama ‘from the eye of the storm’, as the reviewer, Michael Handelzalts, puts it.
The review includes a fascinating biographical tidbit about the Israeli actor Yigal Naor, who plays the shrewd but kindly character Shlomo. Apparently, Naor previously played Saddam Hussein in a BBC drama called House of Saddam (which I’ve not seen).
The casting of an Israeli actor as Iraq’s former dictator seems telling about the attitudes of BBC producers, and western audiences, towards the Middle East. While I wouldn’t deny that an actor can play outside their nationality – the ability to inhabit different roles is, after all, the basis of acting – this casting suggests that Middle Eastern ‘appearances’, accents, and cultures are viewed in the west as essentially interchangeable.
You can read Haaretz‘s take on The Honourable Woman here.
Hannah Boast, Network Coordinator.