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While political problems in the Middle East will likely not go away for good during any of our lifetimes, it appears that things won't be quite so long-lasting for the conflict-surrounded characters over on FX's drama Tyrant. The network has announced that Season 4 will not see the light of day, as Tyrant will cap things off with tonight's Season 3 finale. I'm trying to think of way for the announcement to have come at a worse time for fans.
Centering on Adam Rayner's Bassam Al-Fayeed and his American family, Tyrant told the difficult and extremely engaging story of a mounting conflict in his home country of Abbudin. (It's fictional, as not to piss anyone off.) When the show started, he got drawn back into the danger-filled life that his late father and brother embrace, and the quest to eke some form of peace and understanding out of the troubled population has not been an easy one for Bassam. And now we know whatever happens during the Season 3 finale will be his last moves on the gameboard. That's got to be a pisser for the creative team, assuming they hadn't been tipped off in the past that FX would likely pull the plug after this season.
Unfortunately, audiences just didn't seem to be all that interested in the plights central to Tyrant's dramatic force. And in the cancellation's announcement, FX president John Landgraf slyly pointed a finger of blame at audiences without making it explicit he was doing so. (At least that's how I read it.)
It's very difficult to find common ground with other people whose stories we do not know or understand. The creators of Tyrant have done their utmost over three seasons to tell American audiences a tiny fraction of the many gripping, human stories coursing through the Middle East today.
Everybody wants "new stories" being told on TV and in films, but this is one of thousands of examples of how something unfamiliar is far more likely to be rejected than wholly embraced. Even in these summer TV months when scripted programming is at its most slight, Tyrant never managed to bring in a live audience as big as its series premiere's, which was already a pretty low 2.1 million people. Still, it wasn't until Season 3 that the number of same day viewers dropped below one million viewers an episode, and apparently that was the last straw. For what it's worth, Tyrant was a winner when it came to DVR and On Demand viewing, as it often doubled its initial audience after seven days.
Those DVR numbers could be a potential saving grace for the show, though. Fox 21 Television Studios President Bert Salke said in his statement that the Season 3 finale will be "a satisfying end should the series not find another home." So it appears some execs are putting their feelers out to see if any other networks or streaming services wants to bring it back. So every single viewer counts in this case.
Tyrant was created by Gideon Raff and developed by Howard Gordon and Craig Wright. The former two men worked together for Showtime'sHomeland - based on Raff's Israeli drama Prisoners of War - which recently received a big renewal order, so at least they don't need to worry about that. (Raff and Tim Kring's Dig fared even worse on USA a couple of years ago.)
FX still has quite a bit going for it even without Tyrant on the schedule. Donald Glover's fabulous new comedy Atlanta debuted last night, while Pamela Adlon's new comedy Better Things kicks off later this week. And then there's the return of American Horror Story for Season 6, which has yet to unveil its central theme. If that theme is "Middle Eastern conflicts," I think we know what viewers will do.
Tyrant will air its third and final season finale on FX tonight, September 7, at 10:00 p.m. ET. To see when everything is heading to the small screen later this year, check out our fall premiere schedule.
It's unfortunate that Tyrant was cancelled. However, if you are looking to add the series to your dvd or blu-ray collection, you can check that out here.