Homeland's Portrayal of Pakistan as 'Grimy Hellhole' Angers Officials

It seems not everyone was enamored with Homeland‘s creative resurgence in Season 4.

Pakistani officials who binge-watched all 12 episodes of the Showtime hit’s recently concluded run of episodes were outraged by the way their country was portrayed, according to the New York Post.

Season 4, which was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa, focused on Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison as she worked to uncover a terror plot against the U.S. embassy in Islamabad that was supported by some members of the Pakistani government and its Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

“Maligning a country that has been a close partner and ally of the US… is a disservice not only to the security interests of the US but also to the people of the US,” Pakistan Embassy spokesman Nadeem Hotiana told the paper.

Another source lamented to the Post that “Islamabad is a quiet, picturesque city with beautiful mountains and lush greenery. In Homeland, it’s portrayed as a grimy hellhole and war zone where shootouts and bombs go off with dead bodies scattered around. Nothing is further from the truth.”

The Post added that government officials took their grievances to Homeland‘s producers, but to no avail.

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77 Comments
  1. Way to completely ignore context, guys. Or that the locations depicted were diverse. The “grimy” places were usually reserved for keeping Saul prisoner.

    • Chester says:

      Pakistan’s cities are where most of the people live, and they are gross. The many slums around Karachi look much like the grimy hellholes depicted in Homeland. The mountains are nice, but the hotels are old and unkempt.

  2. alicia says:

    All islam radicals and islam states can whining ))) Islam is evil and it was shown right!

    • Slowride says:

      Idiocy is evil. Islam sure isn’t. It saddens me to see people are making such foolish statements without even reading about the real principles of Islam most of which are very close to those of christiannity.

      Ps: I’m Catholic.

      • Julia says:

        I totally agree with you.
        I have a lot of Muslim friends and none of them have the mentality that many people these days say Muslims do.

        • asm says:

          You have to differentiate Muslims and Islam, otherwise you’re as ignorant as those who stereotype all Muslims are the same. And it’s important to note that muslims who live in a free country are much different than muslims who live in a bigoted country like mine.

          • rowan77 says:

            We have to differentiate the followers of the religion from the religion itself? Why? I know many Muslims as friends and co-workers. They practice their religion peacefully. It’s the extremists who don’t. It is they who need to be separated from the religion, not Muslims in general.

          • @Rowan…yes, you have to “differentiate Muslims and Islam”. As the poster already indicated, there is a massive difference between the practices of those in free countries and those elsewhere. The whole “I have Muslim friends” argument is such b.s. because it lacks perspective, at best. I agree that one can’t generalize and stereotype all Muslim people but you can’t possibly claim to have knowledge of its practice when you only have a few American friends who practice it. Even those in Muslim countries whose practices aren’t orthodox would be vastly different from Muslim Americans who are extremely devout. There is just no comparison.

      • asm says:

        I disagree with you. I’m an ex-muslim living in Islamic country. Islam is an evil religion brought by a crazy man.

      • Sana says:

        If they were “close to Christianity” then I don’t think they would have imprisoned Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag while she was pregnant because she refused to convert to Islam. Or carried out a Christian genocide over the summer.

        • Gaara says:

          I’m an atheist, but if you’d bother to read up the principles of Islam you’d find out that they’re not very different from the other monotheistic religions. The problem with most Islamic countries now is the same as with Christian ones through the Middle Ages: religion has too much power over every aspect of public and private life. Besides, intolerant fanatics are a plague in every religion. Aren’t the United States famous for having people bombing abortion clinics, death threats to homosexuals, banning evolution teaching, etc etc?

      • Temperance says:

        All organized religion is pretty heinous in practice.

    • Moment says:

      The problem isn’t the religion, the problem is with the people who commit evil in the name of said religion. History has shown that no religion is exempt from this.

      • Sana says:

        True, but what religion is predominately responsible for the majority of terrorism and human rights violations at this very moment? Further more, what religion is the only one that cannot be critically talked about without complaints, death threats, or fear of retaliation?

        • Moment says:

          But for the most part, the majority of muslims in the world practise their religion in the West(In countries like America, Canada, Australia, Europe) without any problems and are law abiding citizens. I don’t think its fair to single everyone out for the actions of a radical minority. You are always going to get those that commit crime regardless of race or religion.

          • mamamitzvah says:

            bs’d
            I was not going to add anything to this thread but this statement is so ridiculous I cannot let it pass. “…But for the most part, the majority of muslims in the world practise their religion in the West(In countries like America, Canada, Australia, Europe) without any problems and are law abiding citizens. ..” 9/11, Fort Hood, Boston Marathon, Jewish school in France, beheading of Fusilier Lee Rigby in London etc, etc, etc. These incidents and many more were carried out in the West by “law abiding” Moslems. I do not think every Moslem is evil, but to ignore the truths staring at us is just insane.

          • Moment says:

            Surely you’re trolling me mamamitzvah? I mean, I couldn’t be anymore clear in my post and you’re quoting examples carried out by an extremist minority. I haven’t ignored anything, I refuse to label every muslim as evil because of the actions of a minority. There are millions of Muslims in western countries, they are not all committing crimes.

        • Even if you could definitively prove that at least 50.1% of terrorism was from those with Muslim beliefs, it does not excuse extremism from any other ideology. There have been abortion clinic bombings, beatings and murders of gays, the Columbine shooters were motivated by atheism, the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Catholic molesting cover ups, various crimes against humanity committed by those who made up their own beliefs (Charles Manson, the Unabomber, Scientology, certain Missouri police officers). Singling out any one belief system only exposes your own irrational prejudice.

        • Gaara says:

          @ Sana: everything you said was the exact description of Christianity until the Age of Enlightenment and Modern Age finally came. Sooner or later it will happen in Islamic countries as well.

        • arial2 says:

          Sad thing is, the Islamic extremists are doing what the Christian religions did a few centuries ago. And complaining about Christianity then got one tortured and burned at the stake. I’d guess there are some Christian extremists today who would do the same if they could get away with it. The thing that disturbs me most about the extremists is their apparent hatred of and desire to control women. I think Homeland got it right: although most large cities anywhere have lovely areas, they also have horrible areas where one would always feel threatened. It’s not just Islamabad.

      • Temperance says:

        That’s like saying ‘it’s not global warming, it’s the sun”. One may be the theory, but in the real world, the practice is nothing like the idea (and vastly heinous).

    • BetiSA says:

      intolerance and insults are the resource that use the people who has no reason.
      (I have no religion)

    • David4 says:

      Is Islam is less evil than Christianity.

    • Hodan says:

      It’s idiots like you who think Islam is some small religion that needs to be extinct worries me. Islam is the second largest religion over a billion followers. The word itself is board term just like Christianity and has different denominations. Obviously some those groups would have a bad apple. Not every Muslim around the world is an extremist and it’s that thinking that is causing a rift between everyone.

  3. john snow says:

    Didn’t know they have TV in pakistan ;)

  4. Ray says:

    That’s what you get from separating from glorious India to create your own Islamic Republic, I suppose.

  5. Julia says:

    All the comments on this post so far are really ignorant. *shakes head*

  6. Jenny says:

    I don’t know why TVLine is posting an article like this. I come here for TV news and not stuff like this

  7. Some have a hard time separating fact from fiction…

  8. shahbaz Khosa says:

    Please Google Islamabad and view the images and videos. Absolutely agree with the officials. The show has definitely done a wrong which is a practice that ought to be avoided for it offends us the people besides being the furthest thing from the truth.

    • Derision says:

      TV show … in other words fictional

      Who truly cares what Pakistan officials have to say about a fictional TV show?!

      • Bryce says:

        Fiction must be put in context with the real world, otherwise there is no point.

        • ScottJ says:

          So you’re saying every science fiction / fantasy show is pointless? Many of them have little real world context. Fiction is made-up. That’s the whole point of it. The only thing that varies is just how much of it is made up. I treat everything on TV as fictitious – including half the so-called “news” shows.

    • You get some picturesque, touristy photos of the skyline, sure. And I thought a lot of locations on this season of Homeland looked great (the forested area where Aayan dies, the street with the RPG attack). But you can easily find bias by pointing out what to Google. Even though I found a picture of a crowd watching a gruesome fight between two dogs from that search term. If you Google Islamabad slums, however, you’ll see more pictures that look much worse than anything in the show.

    • Temperance says:

      The ‘officials’ have a lot of delusions – like the are an American ally, instead of the usual reluctant cooperation (and too often betrayers) they actually are. Islamabad might not be a (visual) pit, but it’s not like you have to go far in any direction to find it, and you’ll get sold out for a few pennies even in the pretty places.

  9. Hamza says:

    Homeland has been extremely disappointing this season. As someone who has visited Islamabad numerous times and know Pakistan, this season has been a disaster when portraying Pakistan.
    And for those saying it’s just fictional and all that: this drama is watched all around the globe and is vying for the Emmys. When you’re trying to be this serious, a little bit of research into the country you’re portraying can help rather than picturing a country just by watching the news channels.
    Just Google Islamabad and see the Images and then think if the stink-hole that Homeland shows it to be is true. That’s not asking for much.

  10. I’m from Pakistan and a fan of Homeland since its groundbreaking season 1 but I’ve to say that it’s not just the “Officials” who are angered by the way Islamabad (The capital and one of the most picturesque cities in South Asia) is being portrayed in the recently concluded season of Homeland but the general public in Pakistan as well (Yes, US television series are being watched and enjoyed by a lot of Pakistanis). Now I know that it’s a fictional series but at least they could have done some basic homework before basing one whole season on the region. After all, they’re a Golden Globes winning series.

    I must also admit that while the Homeland writers failed to get their facts straight about certain aspects of Pakistan, the season as a whole [story-wise] got better and better with every episode. Credit where credit is due. Season 4 was much better than season 3 which was a complete let-down for me.

  11. Moment says:

    It’s just a TV show, it’s not real. If you’re offended by it you need to get out more. No one with a brain will think less of any country because of its portrayal on Homeland.

  12. jm says:

    we know it is a tv-show, but sometimes is just frustrating how Hollywood portraits other countries.
    I had a couple of examples regarding my country.
    There are two movies from Tom Cruise who made the same mistake. “Mission Impossible 2” and “Day & Knight”. It seems he like San Fermin, but come on, not all happend in Seville… the second time is worst cause he was informed when he made the mistake the first time…. you spend so much money and u are not able to get to points straight…
    The second come with the idea that Spain is a country down Mexico… but what can we expect.
    I have friends here that they got really upset when in european films, people from the states are steriotype as dumbs and stupids… only for the fact to get people laugh.

    About religion… dont start this topic… so many wars had started for that reason and you can blame any religion in the world… ANY

  13. Eran says:

    I’m from Tel Aviv and far too many people are convinced I spend my days riding camels to work in between running to bomb shelters, escaping suicide bombers and plotting to take over the world, on account of media representation of life here. Fiction is fiction. You learn to take it in stride. End of the day, gin tastes the same here as it would in Pakistan and Pittsburgh.
    Peace to all.

  14. Jss0058 says:

    So officials in Pakistan have nothing better to do than binge watch Homeland?! Sounds like some of our government officials wasting money and time on things that don’t matter.

    Also with the Sony attacks and things like this…it’s obvious these countries don’t get how free speech & expression work in our country and seem to saying our government should censoring our entertainment.

  15. Donk says:

    Cape Town, South Africa is outraged by Pakistani officials’ characterization of their city as a ‘Grimy Hellhole’…

  16. Rick Katze says:

    Pakistan, a close ally. Unfortunately the Emmy’s don’t have a category for a short-short. This would clearly be a winner for a best dramatic presentation. Personally I think Homeland is doing what most TV fiction never does. Say it as it actually is. Always hated those shows when the “unnamed” foreign agent’s country was the villain.

  17. Das Snow says:

    It’s a tv show, enough said.

  18. dee123 says:

    Well the first problems comes from people thinking that Americans actually know something about any other country other than our own.

    There is a reason we have this stereotype and sadly it is grounded in facts.

  19. Ray says:

    There’s a reason why Pakistan is not a popular tourist destination and visas are only granted if absolutely necessary…

  20. Charissa29 says:

    Yes, because all terrorists stay at the Islamabad Marriott! Good Grief, how dumb is this.

  21. David4 says:

    Sony has come out and said they will not be releasing the fourth season on DVD.

  22. DD says:

    Can’t see more in Asia area TV channel….

  23. TinLV says:

    What other countries don’t understand when watching western television and movies is that with freedom of expression, the writers have just as much right to get it wrong as they do to portray the facts. We can’t censor them just because they use poetic license in order to up the drama. It would be nice if they made the effort to get things right, but as a general rule, I take everything I see on TV with a grain of salt.

  24. Mark says:

    Most ironic considering that to Hollywood South Africa is nothing more than a place to use for the next merc or terrorist or drug dealer. It makes a change they used another nation but filmed it in South Africa….

  25. redjane12 says:

    Tough luck guys (officials whatever that means)… This was TV… Fiction you know… And not the kind of thing you can censor just because you don’t feel it portrays your city all pretty…

  26. Creative resurgence?! The season sucked!

  27. dman6015 says:

    I guess the truth hurts. This is also coming from the NY Post. Not exactly a reputable news source, thanks to Mr. Murdoch.

  28. You mean it’s not a grimy hellhole? When did this happen? Why didn’t anyone tell me? (p.s. I keed, I keed!)

  29. Phillip Bauer says:

    I love how the only way the Pakistanis could confirm this was by binge-watching the whole season.