Eight years after its first 2014 broadcast, I discovered the hit Israeli television series, Fauda. Disclosure: I have a habit of discovering popular series long after everyone else. The Big Bang Theory was in its seventh year when I found it. Now, I can recite pages of dialogue. My favorite episode is when Howard decides to eat a peanut and end his life in Las Vegas and Leonard and Raj hire a hooker and tell her to give him the “Jewish Girl Friend Experience”. She saunters over to the buffet and loudly asks “Boy, would it kill them to put out a nice brisket?” Howard turns on his heels. The laughter resounded across the globe. Oh, yes, we were talking about Fauda.
I was aware of Fauda’s existence and had even viewed a promo but decided that the loud “shoot-em-up” narrative about an Israeli anti-terrorism unit was not for me.
But while on a recent trip I began to watch it after dinner and became mesmerized by the story, images and drama and binged watch Season One.
It was violent but it is also poignant.
How can a drama where nearly everyone is forced to commit atrocities, sometimes against their nature, sometimes in tune with their nature, be poignant?
It just is.
The terrorists driven by their hatred of “the Jews” would rather die than improve their lives.
The anti-terrorism fighters sometimes act like the terrorists themselves.
Everyone is equally miserable.
The casting is superlative.
The bearlike Doron plays the lead. He participates in the most dangerous missions and, more often than not, fails to “get his man”. He tries to back away from anti-terrorism work, opens a vineyard, tends livestock but he is pulled back (at least through another late-night binge watch covering Season Two). He and the rest of the team are fluent in Arabic. They switch switch languages and identities back and forth like circus aerialists.
There is the medical doctor, Shirin (a cross between Meryl Streep and Amal Clooney). Regal, icon-like, she should be free to travel and work anywhere in the world but due to family obligations, returns to Ramallah and is, or believes she is, trapped.
Baby-faced Walid puts a pistol against the head of “The Panther”, notorious leader of a Hamas faction, then picks up his blood-stained keffiyeh and drapes it around his own neck.
Fauda is strangely moving and the images remain long after the remote control’s “Power” button has been depressed.
Unlike Howard’s Sin City adventures with the working girl, however, there is no recalled laughter, just relief that at least for now, the tension, fear and horror have subsided.