Warning: this post contains "Homeland" spoilers.
"Homeland's" second episode of the season took viewers from the U.S. to Beirut, Lebanon, where Carrie (Claire Danes) helped orchestrate a strike against Taliban leaders who were meeting in the city. While many television critics praised the Beirut-set scenes for their well-paced suspense and drama, the episode also drew the ire of both Lebanese and Israeli citizens, because it wasn't actually filmed in Beirut -- it was filmed in Tel Aviv, Israel.
According to Entertainment Weekly, not only is "Homeland's" depiction of Beirut inaccurate, the choice to use Israel in the first place is insulting to Beirutis, since they view Israelis as their enemies. So insulting, in fact, that Lebanese Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud is considering a lawsuit after one scene in particular.
"It showed Harma Street with militia roaming in it," Abboud told the Associated Press. "It was not filmed in Beirut, and does not portray the real image of Beirut."
Meanwhile, Israeli citizens resent how Tel Aviv -- a nightlife and tech hotbed -- is shown as the opposite on "Homeland." Not to mention the political weight of depicting Israel as Lebanon. Considering the political climate of the two countries has been, let's say, tense following Israel's 1982 invasion and subsequent occupation, there's more to the situation than simply swapping one country out for another.
However, Tel Aviv Mayor Eytan Schwartz doesn't see a problem.
"If I were Lebanese, with all due respect, I'd be very flattered that a city, and a world heritage site, thanks to its incredible architecture, and residents who were named among the top 10 most beautiful people in the world, could pass as Lebanese," he told AP.Claire Danes on "Homeland." (Showtime)
To viewers who don't necessarily keep up with Middle Eastern affairs, swapping one city for the other might not seem like a big deal. But according to the reaction of Lebanese citizens, the issue has more to it than just an on-location shoot. Does "Homeland" have a responsibility to respect political climates and relationships, given its subject matter? Or should it be given a pass as a drama that happens to feature political story lines?
"Homeland" may be a fictional series, but with such a political focus, not honouring real-life politics may only add fuel to a fire, or re-affirm the idea that North America is self-centered. True, in real life, we don't have the terrorists Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) or Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), but if a show opts for accuracy in other areas, surely it should be aware of the dynamic between two very different countries with volatile histories.
Or, at the very least, "Homeland" should stop perpetuating stereotypes that leave audiences believing all areas of the Middle East look the same.
"Homeland" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on the SuperChannel.