Why ‘Fauda’ Is One of the Best TV Shows You’ll Ever See
A show about terrorism should be explosive. Too often, stereotypical characters, cardboard dialogue and absurd plot twists turn what should be spine-tingling television into a yawn-fest.
But the only way you’ll fall asleep while watching “Fauda” (Arabic for “chaos”) is if you’re shot with a horse tranquilizer. These layered characters allow the viewer a window into the pain of both the Israelis and Palestinians.
In one gut-wrenching scene, a female terrorist brings a bomb into a club and seeks revenge for Israel’s killing of her husband. As she fights back tears and asks for a Diet Coke, we can see that she knows that the caring, blond bartender does not deserve to die. So what will she do? Will she still let the bomb go off?
The series, which recently became available on Netflix, follows an elite Israeli unit that goes undercover as Palestinians to hunt down terrorists. Israeli agent Doron (Lior Raz) comes out of retirement to head up the unit when he hears that Abu Ahmad, the man he though he killed, is actually still alive.
In the first episode, Doron poses as a waiter at a wedding where Ahmad is supposed to appear. A fantastic actor, Raz shows his star-power, driving the show with fierce eyes and a reckless abandon. At any moment, he looks like the man who might save the day — or destroy everything. Later on in the series, the character is pushed to the brink when he must decide if he should disobey orders in his attempt to rescue his brother-in-law, who is being held hostage.
As Ahmad, Hisham Suleiman has the perfect stone-cold glare of a terrorist — and a chilling voice. Shadi Mar’i plays Ahmad’s protégé, Walid el Abed. Mari is masterful, flashing an innocent smile and an enraged glare interchangeably. He is a character who at one moment excitedly pours orange soda into the plastic cup of a woman he loves, and the next moment puts a bullet into the head of a man he fears.
There’s also eye candy for both men and women. Rona Lee Shimon plays Nurit, a beautiful tactical supporter of the Israeli unit, who wants to see more action in the field. When her superior takes a liking to her, she winds up seeing a different sort of action. Tomer Kapon plays Boaz and one of his shirtless scenes caused a friend of mine to refer to him as the Israeli Ryan Gosling. As for his acting, he’s got the chops. His grieving is palpable when someone he loves is killed. And in a scene where he is about to be released from captivity by terrorists, and he knows that he could still be killed, it’s hard not to cry.
We also see the suffering on the Palestinian side. It’s heart-wrenching when a Palestinian child is shown having surgery to save her eye.
Besides Doron, the heart of the show is Dr. Shirin El-Abed, played by Laetitia Eido. Her character, a Palestinian doctor, doesn’t like terrorists — but feels like she might have to marry one for her own safety. You can’t help but root for her. Eido’s eyes and delivery emit a sense of grace, beauty and goodness. Just as she bandages up the faces of her patients, she also wishes that she could fix the figurative wounds of war.
The show’s only flaw is that the romantic scenes and those involving an affair could be better. The show is mainly in Arabic, with English subtitles, but the acting is so good that even if you don’t catch every word, you’ll still have a good sense of what’s going on.
Created by Raz, who drew from his own experiences in an elite Israeli unit, and journalist Avi Issacharoff, the show smacks of realism even though the scenes are fictional. You’ll be on the edge of your seat for the show’s climax, when Doron has a gun pointed at his head and is ordered to say the “Shema” prayer. If it’s a binge-worthy show you want, “Fauda” is the answer to your prayers.