FX Drama Tyrant Rules Respectable Kingdom of 775K Demo Viewers

Mideast-set series gets increase over lead-in for pilot

Tyrant is off to a reasonable start, if not an earth-shaking one: the drama pulled in a .61 rating, which came out to some 775,000 viewers in the key 18-49 demo. Not bad, with plenty of room to grow—and grow it ought to, because reviews are generally favorable for the new show. Combined with a second showing later that evening, the show delivered 3.56 million viewers and 1.32 million adults 18-49.

John Landgraf bought Gideon Raff's spec script after a protracted fight with several other interested parties. Billed unofficially as "a reverse Homeland" (and indeed, Raff and Howard Gordon produce both shows—celebrated playwright and Six Feet Under scribe Craig Wright is main difference in the development team for Tyrant), the script was a hot one. "There is a reason a bidding war broke out over this project," Landgraf said when the series was announced last year.

Politically astute viewers may notice quite a few similarities between the characters portrayed on the show and folks from the real world, though: Barry Al Fayeed (Adam Rayner) is a dead ringer (at least so far) for Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, the Western-educated doctor who marries a foreigner but becomes the head of a Middle Eastern dictatorship somewhat in spite of himself.

It's the first of two big-league FX dramas to roll out this summer with Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro's sci-fi drama The Strain due out July 13; both shows are getting full-throated support from FX in terms of marketing dollars—last week saw FX buttonholing civilians and giving them complimentary luxury treatments in a promo program the network called "random acts of upgrade."

Put bluntly, the series needs to do well: it's reportedly the most expensive show ever shot in Israel.