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Whenever you’re in need of a binge-watch suggestion, look no further than Yahoo TV’s Binge Guide… or Stephen King’s Twitter feed. The celebrated author has previously directed his followers and fans to such shows as Stranger Things, Tyrant, and The 100. And he recently tweeted out his affection for a new addiction: Fauda, a 2015 Israeli series currently streaming on Netflix.
If a serialized TV thriller can keep a master suspense like King enthralled, then you know it packs some serious dramatic firepower. And if his word isn’t good enough for you, here are five things to know about Fauda that will prime you to stream all 12 episodes right now.
1) It’s like The Shield in Israel
Shawn Ryan’s groundbreaking FX series celebrates its 15th anniversary on March 12, and it still doesn’t get enough recognition for changing the visual grammar of TV procedurals. Building on what David Milch had started on NYPD Blue, The Shield employs jittery hand-held camerawork, but also sends those cameras out in to the field where they race to keep up with morally compromised L.A. cop Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and the rest of his Strike Team as they bust heads and take names. Fauda aims for the same immediacy from its very first sequence, which depicts the members of the Mista’arvim, an elite Israeli Defense Unit undercover squadron, infiltrating a mosque and forcibly removing a man they hope will become an informant. Those are the kinds of extreme policing methods practiced by Mackey’s Strike Team, and, like The Shield, Fauda avoids overtly endorsing or condemning the Mista’arvim’s actions. Instead, it turns the question over to viewers: when and where is the line where the means no longer justify the end?
2) It’s a thriller with real world relevance
With the recent presidential transition, all eyes are once again on the Middle East, as new POTUS, Donald Trump, seeks to put his own stamp on Israeli/Palestinian relations. Fauda provides a street-level look at that ongoing conflict, anchored by an overarching narrative that involves the Mista’arvim’s manhunt for Abu Ahmed a.k.a. “The Panther” (Hisham Suliman), a Hamas leader they had previously thought dead. In order to nab him, they un-retire the officer who “killed” him the first time, Doron Kavillio (Lior Raz, who also co-created the show). And while Doran once again appears to take out his target at the end of the first episode, this Panther is hard to put down. Abu survives and plots a revenge plan that will add more victims to his already-high body count of 116 Israelis. Within this narrative, Raz and his collaborator, journalist Avi Issacharoff, examine the nuances of what life is like in a country where two cultures live in a constant state of fear of each other. (The title, by the way, is the Arabic word for “chaos.”)
3) It’s gotten accolades and awards from both Israelis and Palestinians
While the real Hamas apparently isn’t a fan of Fauda, the show has received big thumbs up from many Arab and Jewish viewers, who have made it one of the highest-rated shows on Israeli cable. (It also picked up a statue for Best Drama Series, plus five other awards, at the 2016 Ophir Awards, Israel’s combined version of the Oscars and Emmys.) Raz, who served in the Israeli military and based the series in part on his own experiences, chalks its dual popularity up to the fact that Fauda tries to go beyond the usual good guy/bad guy dynamic. Abu, for example, isn’t an emotionless killing machine: he’s a man who cares deeply for his family and community, and feels compelled to commit acts of violence out of an understandable sense of injustice. “The narrative is Israeli, yes, but if there’s a terrorist, he may be a scumbag and I may hate him, but he still has a wife and he has kids, and what he does affects his family,” Raz recently told Foreign Policy magazine. “It’s here that you get the real story.”
4) There’s a second season in the works
While the manhunt for the Panther is resolved at the end of Season 1, Doran isn’t about to retire again anytime soon. Raz and Issacharoff are currently working on a second season that’s expected to premiere in Israel this fall, and will send the officer back out into the field in pursuit of new enemies. “The news affects what you write,” Issacharoff told The Times of Israel. “You can’t ignore reality and you’ll see part of that new reality in the show. If the first season was about Hamas and the territories, this will be something newer and more relevant.”
5) You might see it in English one day
Israeli television has previously served as the genesis for such acclaimed U.S. shows as HBO’s In Treatment (based on the 2005-2008 series BeTipul) and Showtime’s Homeland (adapted from Prisoners of War, which debuted in 2010 and aired a second season in 2012). Fauda‘s creators are well-aware of the success of those previous imports, and are reportedly already looking to interest a network or streaming service in an American remake. Maybe they can get Stephen King to help out, since he’s already got a connection at Hulu. Or, better yet, he could write an episode.
Fauda is currently streaming on Netflix.