Social media users were not impressed by popular US TV show's portrayal of Algeria as on the brink of chaos, and in need of saving
A paranoid dictator with 11 wives, Islamist terrorists and impending civil war forces America to intervene and save the day.
This is the plot of an episode of popular US show Madam Secretary that has sparked uproar among Algerians complaining that the series resorts to every orientalist cliche in the book in its portrayal of the north African country.
In the episode, the Algerian president not only has 11 wives, but he also has a mistress.
The second episode of season three sees the US secretary of state, played by Tea Leoni, having to "save Algeria" from a dictator who is seeking to retain power as the country teeters on the brink of a civil war.
Madam Secretary may well have been fictional, but on social media, Algerians were quick to denounce the "clichés" and unrealistic scenes and characters.
Translation: Episode 2 of season 3 of Madam Secretary, which takes place in between Algeria and the United States, features Algeria at the verge of explosion because of Tindouf rebels and terrorists, and the president’s name is Haddad. He is treated like a mentally ill person, suffering from paranoia and instability. He has 11 wives. The representative of the Algerian government is dressed like a bimbo, the general “Mourad Cherat” negotiates with the Americans, makes a coup and Haddad is later tried in the International Court of Justice in The Hague. PS Haddad hangs Professor Arkoun. PPS in episode 5, there is an American intervention in Algeria with the blessing of the new president, after which they “save” Algeria...
CBS Madam Secretary was about the Secretary flying to Algeria to overthrow an autocratic President. Holywood normalizes a coup. Interesting
— Tim Hogan (@TimInHonolulu) June 5, 2017
In a Facebook post, social media user Djamal Zebboudj writes that “In the imagination of American screenwriters, our country is on the brink of explosion because of a ‘terrorist force’”.
Zebboudj added that the episode painted “an image that contrasts paradoxically with that of a stable, calm and peaceful country that tries to defend our diplomacy in international institutions”.
The character of the "abominable dictator," as the State Department label him in the show, is impulsive and paranoid, and is interested in nothing more than power.
"Insurgents" gather in a threat to "march on Algiers" as armed Islamists await chaos in order to seize the capital from the south of the country.
It is not the first time Algeria has been the inspiration for a TV show.
In 2015, in season one of the French TV show Le bureau des legendes, it imagined a war between French and Algerian intelligence agencies.
And in 2016, the Americans launched air raids on Algeria in Designated Survivor.