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Homeland Trailer, Poster Prompt Concern Over Pakistan Portrayal

The hit drama is already under scrutiny for how it will portray Pakistan and how it will handle the issue of CIA drone strikes in its story line.
Claire Danes and Damian Lewis are the stars of "Homeland." In its upcoming fourth season, the show is set in Pakistan.
Claire Danes and Damian Lewis are the stars of "Homeland." In its upcoming fourth season, the show is set in Pakistan. Frank Ockenfels 3

The fourth season of Showtime’s “Homeland” doesn’t air until October, but the hit drama is already under scrutiny.

Some are already questioning the show's portrayal of Pakistan and wondering how it will handle the controversial issue of CIA drone strikes, following the recent release of the Season 4 trailer and a promotional poster.

In the trailer, viewers see brief glimpses of an anti-drone rally and protesters waving Pakistani flags outside of the U.S. embassy in Pakistan, followed by shots of destruction from what appears to be a drone strike or bombing.

“You’ll be on your best behavior here in Pakistan,” a character played by the actor Raza Jaffrey intones to Claire Danes’s character, Carrie Mathison.

After the trailer was released last week, journalist Rob Crilly, who covers Pakistan and Afghanistan for The Telegraph, wondered if Carrie’s “experiences here tally with mine –- broadly of hospitality, friendship and warmth.”

The trailer -- featuring enraged mobs attacking Carrie's car, a wedding celebration interrupted by an explosive blast, and bodies being pulled from rubble -- indicates that is unlikely.

"One thing I noted is that the trailer seems to erase Pakistani women, as if it's just [Claire Danes] and a whole lot of scary Pakistani men all the time," Pakistani-American writer Ali Eteraz said in an email.

Eteraz, who grew up in Pakistan, is the author of the upcoming short story collection Falsipedies and Fibsiennes. "Anyone that knows public life in Pakistan knows that women take up a whole lot of public space -- from uncovered to covered, from old to young -- and its simply not the case that you would have one lone American woman wandering through the streets surrounded by men."

The new promotional poster has also come under criticism. In it, Claire Danes is portrayed as a modern-day Little Red Riding Hood -- complete with red cloak -- wide-eyed and distressed, looking over her shoulder, and surrounded by a sea of anonymous women in black burqas.

"I just love the no holds barred cynicism of depicting an agent of one of the most powerful organizations in the world from the most powerful nation in the world as an innocent little school girl," said Eteraz.

Hollywood has long been criticized for its lack of accuracy in its portrayal of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Oscar-nominated film "Zero Dark Thirty" was faulted for having its characters speak Arabic in Pakistan, rather than Urdu, Pashto, or Punjabi (languages actually spoken across the country). 2008’s "Iron Man" made a similar mistake when its warlords in Afghanistan spoke Urdu instead of Dari or Pashto.

Thirteen years after the start of the start of the war in Afghanistan and three years after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, scriptwriters continue to be drawn to stories set in the region.

On Friday, AMC greenlit the pilot for the new drama White City, which follows the lives of a group of diplomats and journalists living in Kabul. In announcing the new show, the producers touted the familiarity the creators Nick McDonell, a journalist, and the diplomat John Dempsey had with the region.

“It’s not a war story, it’s a character story that will tackle some of the most complicated issues of our time,” the network’s Joel Stillerman told Variety.

Image: Episode 109
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland. The show's next season is already under scrutiny for how it will portray Pakistanis and how it will handle the issue of drone strikes.Kent Smith/SHOWTIME