Homeland, ah! What a throwback, am I right? Whether you are a fan of the show or not, it's highly possible that you were a witness to the controversy that spread around it back when season 4 of the show came out, but in case you missed it, let me get you up to speed.
Homeland is an American tv drama series, dubbed as a political thriller, that first aired back in 2011. It follows a bipolar CIA operative, Carrie Mathison, who is on the hunt to find an American prisoner that she suspects to have joined forces with an Islamist Terrorist group. The show ran for 8 seasons, during which it managed to garner a huge fanbase for its take on espionage and thrill.
Now, the show has ticked off quite a few countries, mainly for it's stereotyping of Islamic countries where each season is set. Season 4, fortunately for us, saw our beloved CIA operative take a little trip to Pakistan to relieve us of its terrorist links. The fictitious portrayal of the militant events, alongside the insinuation that Pakistan's own Intelligence Agency ISI is an ally of such groups, led to a lot of debates, with Pakistanis lashing out in betrayal and outrage, whereas the US citizens claimed that perhaps the fiction "hit a little too close to home". But I won't be delving into that debate today.
All I want to know is, controversy aside, how hard is it for a show with countless Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe awards to its name, to do a quick little google search about what the capital of Pakistan, or Pakistani people in general, look like? What do they wear? How do they go about their lives?
When I watched the show, with the sole reason to see what all the controversy was about, I quite frankly couldn't get past the fact that Islamabad was portrayed as a backward, conservative, terrorism-ridden city with women clad in burqas and what not. Disappointed, but not surprised ( I type this out as I currently sit in Islamabad).
I mean sure, we've got a couple of sit-ins here and there, but other than that, it's full of lovely people that use any excuse they can possibly get to go to Centaurus or Monal. Women wear burqas, sure, but is that all that we wear? Absolutely not. It takes years for people migrating from villages to the city to get past their initial culture shock because it's too "modern" and you're really out here painting our best like that? Sounds a lot like a stereotypical portrayal, ignorance and a whole lot of generalization to me, is all I'm saying.
And, oh! How could I forget? The accents. The script. The actors. I sometimes wonder if the West truly thinks Pakistan is a part of the Middle East because fam...what was that? Here's a little snippet of the show in case you think I'm exaggerating.
The Urdu had me in hysterics at some points. Not only did the accent of my fellow Pakistani brethren completely miss the mark, but the writers really went ahead and decided they didn't need to spend those extra dollars on a translator because Google truly has brought the future to us! Just search "English to Urdu" and type the entire script in, hit translate, and we're good to go! And of course, to top it all off, Indians and Pakistanis truly are the same people I guess. Cause I don't know about you, but I can tell an Indian accent from a Pakistani one in my sleep, yet it's pretty obvious throughout the season that they really couldn't pick on it.