Thursday, December 14, 2006

All-American Jihad



I'm one of apparently very few people who watches Showtime's "Sleeper Cell," if last season's ratings are any indication. That's a shame, as this season is darker and sharper than the first go-round was. The show is about an American Muslim FBI agent who infiltrates and stops Al Qaeda cells before they can achieve their objectives, and about his nemesis, an Al Qaeda leader who was arrested last season, then this season was extradited to Saudi Arabia and tortured before he escaped. There are some interesting subtexts, most notably the distinctions between moderate Muslims (particularly in the U.S.) and the radicals in the terror cells. Last season the contrast was there, but this year the writers--some of whom are Islamic themselves--are being more aggressive than last year (for instance, one Muslim woman called a member of this year's cell a "fucking nut" when he kept obsessing on some obsolete Shi'ite practice or other). Also, one member of the cell is getting himself some man-luvin', which appears to be making him rethink the whole radical Muslim thing just a little. The show doesn't go easy on U.S. foreign policy, and takes a hard line against torture, but it also shows militant Islam as an assortment of violent, fanatical true believers and oddball malcontents. It's pretty good television.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't watch a lot of television. When I saw ads for this show, I thought "oh great, another front on this war on terrorism coming at you from our very own airwaves."

Your descriptions have made me wonder if I should check it out.

One caveat - if it's violent, then I can't watch it. On a scale of 1-10, how bad would you say it is?

Randy said...

It's probably around a 7 or so on the violence scale.

Jeff W said...

I strongly agree that this season's Sleeper Cell is even better than the last, and many many times more realistic than 24. Most importantly, it does so without any of the fantasy technology that Jack Baur possesses, if you're a fan of 24, this show would blow your mind.