'The Honorable Woman': Can a Political Show Be Too Timely?

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The events depicted in SundanceTV’s Middle Eastern set drama, The Honorable Woman, take place 8 years ago. But with the latest conflicts in Gaza flaring up, they could very well be taking place today. The New York Times’ Dave Itzkoff explores the issues surrounding a show that could be too timely for its own good.

As Ramy Yaccoub, the deputy director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and an advisor on another Middle Eastern-set show Tyrant, puts it, "There’s already so much grief, and there are already so many misperceptions; you don’t want to solidify any of that. If you’re making a show, be prepared for the criticism, be welcoming of the criticism, and be prepared to make changes.” He also urges show creators that “if you really want to dive into this, you have to pay attention to nuance.”

The show’s writer/director Hugo Blick, meanwhile, is adamant that his fictional show is not intended to provide commentary on the current conflict. “There is no way that a fiction should try to contribute or analyze what’s happening right now, because it isn’t the place of fiction to reflect that,” he says. “I think there is a sincere difference between being provocative and being inciting. And it’s certainly not being inciting or searching to do so.”

Star Maggie Gyllenhaal seems to take a slightly different approach, and defends the show’s decision to weave traditional narrative elements into a difficult and polarizing backdrop. “Why can’t there be all sorts of elements inside a story that’s talking about this? Isn’t that one way to help encourage people, who have that vise grip on either side of the issue, to maybe, slightly, for 10 seconds, loosen it?” she says.

Read the full story here.

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