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Baghdad Central

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Why it’s worth your time:

Based on a novel by Elliott Colla, Baghdad Central is set shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It centers around a sidelined Baghdad police inspector, Muhsin al-Khafaji, whose older daughter has gone missing, while his younger daughter is in need of dialysis. No job, no money and in a panic, he takes a deal from a Brit to work for the Occupation Forces in exchange for his younger daughter’s medical care.

Caught between his British and U.S. military bosses, and the Iraqis who see him as a trader, al-Khafaji tries to focus on finding his missing daughter while ensuring the other gets the care she needs.

Commissioned by the UK’s Channel 4, the series is considered a “dual-language drama,” so it aims to balance subtitles over the actual language and English (for easier viewing).  The effect is that you get the sense you are watching realistic dialogue between English-speaking forces and Iraqis, including the asides the latter don’t think the former can understand.

Critics have called this drama “thrilling” and “a game changer for Arabs” (Los Angeles Times), and it’s a first for presenting an Arab lead and point of view – and the day-to-day life of the Iraqi people.

The takeaway:

It challenges assumptions and offfers a rare glimpse at the struggles, compromises and points of view of Iraqis in Baghdad, the drama paints a critical portrait the “liberators” and their effectiveness.

 

Watch it with:

The series is rated TV-14, so it’s for older kids and adults.

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