Now that Americans are months into a quarantine, the question is what to watch now after you’ve binged on your Netflix list. Independent researcher and trainer on counterterrorism, Liam Duffy, offers a list of his top must-watch films and television series during a quarantine lockdown.
Richard Jewell – Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell is the story of a security guard’s experience in the aftermath of the 1996 bombing at the Olympics in Atlanta. The guard discovered the bomb, only to be later (falsely) accused of setting it himself. According to Duffy, “The actors and the characters (based on real people) are fantastic and likable, backed by an emotional story.”
Homeland – A long-running series focused on jihadism, Homeland gets mixed reviews over its characters and plots from season to season. Yet, as Duffy shares, it’s worth noting that Barack Obama admits he’s a fan of the show.
Made in France – The 2015 film Made in France follows a French-Algerian journalist who infiltrates a homegrown terror cell plotting a major attack in Paris. However, Duffy says, the film “takes a few disappointing turns and fails to tackle the subject matter with as much rigor or depth as terrorism nerds will be crying out for.” The film’s release was initially postponed given a string of jihadist attacks across Paris, including the Charlie Hebdo atrocity.
Fauda – A hit Israeli show, Fauda might feel a little difficult to follow at first but counter-extremist and ideological warfare experts swear by it for its gritty representation of on-the-ground efforts of combating jihadism. Duffy also points out that Fauda is one of the most watched shows in the Arab world. While the show is popular in Israel, those who have inside knowledge about how the Israeli security forces work say it is not so realistic.
Four Lions – Recommended by many people in the counter-extremism circuit, Four Lions is a refreshing comedy on a tense subject. As Duffy describes it,
“A genuine laugh-out-loud spectacle confronting a very serious and sensitive topic without fear. Among all the cultural and political sensitivities that come with tackling jihadist terror, this film shows exactly how to do it. Taking ruthless aim at both the hapless wannabe mujahideen [jihadi warriors] and the security services chasing them…”
Or, you could just jump straight to Clarion Project’s videos starting with our 11-part series, “The Psychology of Terrorism.”
The next two recommendations come from Clarion’s National Correspondent Shireen Qudosi:
Sleeper Cell – With complex characters on both sides of the law, Sleeper Cell follows the story of a black Muslim FBI agent who infiltrates a sleeper cell. The show’s star, Michael Ealy, puts pure heart into the role (without which the show might feel like an over dramatization of a subject). Written by Kamran Pasha, an American Muslim of Pakistani descent, Qudosi says, “The show has an authenticity I haven’t seen in too many other television series about jihadism. They characters are not written to pander to an audience.”
What Will People Say – Recommended to Qudosi by an audience member at a Preventing Violent Extremism training, What Will People Say follows the story of a South Asian family as they struggle between their old world and their new one.
“On paper, the storyline of walking between two worlds has been told to death, but this film is not led by the story, it’s led by the actors who do a phenomenal job of cracking open their vulnerabilities as characters. You feel for them, even if you don’t want to — especially the father figure, played by a very talented Indian actor who turns the entire story around at the 11th hour.”
Caliphate – Earlier during the quarantine lockdown, Clarion Project drew attention to a popular Netflix show. Originally a Swedish drama, the realistic series shows how teen girls are trafficked by ISIS recruiters and follows the lives of both men and women who come to regret their decisions to join the caliphate. It’s a must-watch for understanding how different personality dynamics operate and what drives people toward or away from extremism. Caliphate also profiles how recruiters, both men and women, systematically target vulnerable girls.