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The politics of the political thrillers: De-Othering Iran in Tehran (Kan, 2021-)

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2/09/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Transnational Screens (Formerly Transnational Cinemas (2010-2018))
Issue number3
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)195-217
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date23/08/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The 21st century resurgence of the political thriller genre was informed by two factors: the post 9/11 geo-politics and the new global landscape of film and television. Tehran (Kan, 2021-), the recent political thriller series from Israel on Apple TV+, offers an illuminating example of the transnationalisation of the genre. By analysing the series along with discussions on its production context and reception in Israel, Iran and internationally, we demonstrate the complex and shifting relationship between the entertainment and the political elements, which typify the genre and its global travel. Revolving around the topical geo-political issues, the series’ action-based plot delineates an Israeli military operation to neutralise the Iranian nuclear reactor, while deeper layers of the narrative point to its political aim: countering negative representations of Iran and provoking a critique of Israel’s own forms of oppression and its internal identity crisis. Placing at its centre a young Israeli female agent, whose complexity is rooted in her hybrid identity as a migrant Iranian-Jew, the series renders visible suppressed histories of Iranian-Jewry’s fractured relationship with Zionism. This, we claim, is the core of the series’ political critique, which despite its potential subversion was largely lost in the reception space.