Then there's the outlandish portrayal of the Muslim Brotherhood's leaders, who are reminiscent of 1980s Chuck Norris villains. They are angry, unpredictable, and prone to violent outbursts. Ominous music follows them wherever they go. Their piety is about as superficial as their shiny suits or German cars. They eat lamb at their parties in a country where people are often hungry and where meat is a luxury.
In sharp contrast, the state security agent is a caricature of another sort: a sterling-souled hero. This is a not-so-subtle attempt to undo the bad reputation earned by the intelligence service over the last six decades. Since the reign of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt's revolutionary leader, the mabahith has been a dreaded force. Innocents have routinely been swept away by "dawn visitors" from the intelligence service, and stories of torture and corruption are commonplace. The star agent in "Al Gamaah," however, would make even the most goody-two-shoes superhero roll his eyes. He is a model son and neighbor, courteous to those he interrogates, and devoted to lofty ideals, such as truth, justice, and love of country. The Mubarak regime could not ask for a more honorable representative -- which is perhaps how audiences know it's fictional.
The show takes even more troubling liberties with Egyptian history. In a subplot made up of flashback scenes depicting the early years of the Muslim Brotherhood, its founder, Hasan al-Banna, is shown as a political opportunist. He incites his followers to violence, accepts bribes, and even cooperates covertly with the British occupation.