Follow TV Tropes


Series / House of Saddam

Go To

House of Saddam is a 2008 miniseries joint-produced by BBC Television and HBO Films. Described by as "The Sopranos with Scud Missiles," the series chronicles the rise and fall of Saddam Hussein (Igal Naor), but also the lives of his family, which consists of his long-suffering wife Sajidah (Shohreh Aghdashloo), his sons Uday and Qusay (Phillip Arditti and Mounir Margoum), his daughters Raghad, Hana, and Halah (Agni Scott, Shivani Ghai, and Amber Rose Revah), and his mistress Samira (Christine Stephen-Daly), who later becomes his second wife, as well as those in his inner circle.

Provides examples of:

  • Ambition Is Evil: Hussein Kamel is motivated primarily by his desire to "not be nothing" like the common people of Iraq, and this leads him to commit numerous atrocities in Saddam's inner circle. It's also a case of "Ambition is Stupid," because his desire to climb to the top ultimately leads to his death.
  • Anyone Can Die: Under Saddam's rule, they most certainly do.
  • Arranged Marriage: Saddam's first marriage to Sajida is as such. Later, he arranged marriages to Raghad and Rana to Hussein and Saddam Kamel respectively.
  • Berserk Button: Saddam does not like traitors.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Good to know that a murdering tyrant like Saddam has family issues like everyone else.
  • Boom, Headshot!: The execution of several Baath loyalists. Even worse was that those that were spared were ordered to do the killing.
  • The Casanova: Saddam was a ladies' man.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In Part 3, Uday mentions to his mother and brother that their father is having a copy of the Quran inked in his own blood. The next scene shows just that.
  • Daddy's Girl: Raghad and Rana to their father.
  • Defector from Decadence: The Kamel brothers subvert this hard in Part 3. Yes, Saddam's Iraq may be a brutal genocidal dictatorship spiraling into abject poverty, and Saddam's family are backstabbing violent lunatics, but Hussein and Saddam Kamel are little different. Hussein remains an arrogant and violent thug during his stay in Jordan who scoffs at the idea of being held accountable for threatening a journalist, and it's clear that his only reasons for defecting are because he thinks he will die soon and because he wants to be in charge of the "decadence" himself.
  • Dirty Coward: When Ali Al-Majid goes to execute the Kamel brothers for besmirching the Al Majids' honor, he does it "The Bedouin Way." He gives them a pair of assault rifles so it can be a "fair fight"...while bringing an armed platoon of Iraqi soldiers to back him up. He justifies this when Hussein insults him about it, saying it's only as fair as a traitor deserves.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Try to assassinate the President of Iraq? He will raze your village in retaliation. Accuse a neighboring country of driving down the price of oil? You invade their country. Try to attempt to overthrow the President of Iraq after defecting to Jordan and taking his daughters with them? He will set you up to take the fall to make himself look good to the U.N. Weapons Inspectors, force you to divorce his daughters upon your return to Iraq, and set you up to be killed.
  • The Dragon: In Part 1, it's Adnan Khairallah. Later, Hussein Kamel takes over until he is killed.
  • Dwindling Party: The core group of men who backed Saddam's coup against al-Bakr are gradually killed off over the course of the series, mainly by Saddam himself.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Uday, Uday, Uday. Beating your dad's most trusted valet to death while in a rage will not go well with your dad.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Saddam with his own mother at first, before telling her that she “gave him nothing” on her deathbed. Played straight with Qusay and Uday concerning their relationship with Sajida.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • For what it's worth, Saddam does care about his family to varying degrees. He's visibly distraught when he learns that his sons and grandson are dead and even secretly visits their graves to pay his respects.
    • Qusay cares deeply for his son, Mustafa, even urging the boy to flee Iraq with most of the family. Hell, his last act before they are both killed is trying to get the boy to safety.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The exploding car kicks off the failed ambush once Saddam leaves Dujail.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Subverted. Saddam gains the blonde Samira as his new mistress, so his brunette wife Sajida dyes her hair blonde as well to be noticed by Saddam. He simply dismisses it as "tacky", implying that it's Samira's youthfulness more than anything that he really appreciates.
  • The Exile: Saddam orders Barzan to leave Iraq once Raghad's wedding to Hussein Kamel is over. Barzan is not very happy.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Saddam marches calmly toward his execution without a shred of fear. As a bonus, we even get to hear the sentencing in the background, which features Saddam defying the judges and simply shouting things like "Long live Iraq!"
  • Family Honor: Since Saddam promised not to execute Hussein and Saddam Kamel for their betrayal, he plays the family honor card to his half-brother Ali, who proceeds to have the both of them executed.
  • Famous Ancestor: Saddam claims that the Prophet Muhammad is his ancestor. He even shows his youngest son Qusay a chart detailing the family tree in Part 3. This, of course, is false.note 
  • Foregone Conclusion: The audience knows that Saddam will eventually be captured and executed.
  • Freudian Excuse: Saddam had a rough infancy, which he recalls from time to time. His stepfather was very abusive and his mother was at least an enabler. He never knew his natural father, but Saddam's mother, the widow of the man, describes him as very bad blood.
  • General Failure: Hussein Kamel, head of the Iraqi Republican Guard, is a sycophantic worm more concerned with preserving his own place in the Iraqi government than his actual job. By the end of Episode 2, he is reduced to screaming over the phone that deserters will be shot and trying to outright lie to Saddam about how bad they're losing until Qusay calls him on his bullshit.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Since the series takes place in and around Iraq, you will hear a bit of Arabic now and then.
  • Gulf War: Takes place in Part 2.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Uday Hussein's sadistic nature is toned down quite a bit in the series because the producers thought the audience would just have trouble accepting that a human being could be as wantonly cruel as he was in real life.
  • Hookers and Blow: Uday's favorite pastimes, aside from rape and torture.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Hussein Kamel completely misunderstands both Saddam Hussein and the value that even he has to the Americans, the UN, and Saddam himself.
    Raghad: You never really understood [Saddam], did you?
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Saddam spends the last episode hiding from US forces outside his own hometown on the Euphrates river, becoming unlikely friends with a local boy who doesn't know who the now powerless old man with the scraggly beard really is.
  • I Gave My Word: Saddam promises his first wife that Raghad and Rana would be spared his wrath upon their return to Iraq. Their husbands Hussein and Saddam Kamel are not as lucky. Technically, Saddam did promise not to harm them but didn't say anything about their Uncle Ali exercising tribal law at Saddam's behest.
  • I Regret Nothing: When Sajida confronts Saddam after he shot his best friend (of which his now-widow was a friend of hers), Saddam replies that if he is able to kill even his best friend without hesitation, then he is a man to be feared.
  • The Jeeves: Saddam's personal valet, Kamel Hanna, who arranges his meetings with Samira. This does not go well with Sajida and especially Uday.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Saddam's best friend, Hamdani. It was Saddam himself who did the deed in full view of Barzan.
    Hamdani: I have nothing to forgive you for - (BANG)
  • Last Stand: The Kamel brothers versus Ali and a squad of Iraqi troops. Uday and Qusay versus the Coalition troops. CurbStompBattles.
  • Loophole Abuse: After their attempted betrayal and forced return to Iraq, Saddam promises that neither he nor his sons will seek revenge against the Kamel Brothers for their treason, and will only be held under House Arrest. He then meets with one of their family members and unsubtly points out they besmirched the family's honor with their actions, prompting him to carry the deed out himself.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: General Adnan Khairallah and one exploding helicopter. Sajida knows that the death of her brother was no accident. Saddam merely shrugs it off as a helicopter accident.
  • Meaningful Name: Saddam is Arabic for 'One Who Confronts.'
  • The Mistress: Samira Shahbandar, at first. Saddam even goes as far as to flirt with her in front of her husband in Part 1. (He objects, but Saddam's men just advise him to keep quiet and take the inevitable bribe.) By Part 2, she is his second wife.
  • Nepotism: Saddam places members of his family in high-positions of power once he becomes President. In an ironic twist, Saddam's predecessor was his own cousin, who had made Saddam his deputy before being overthrown.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Saddam, as his convoy is ambushed by assassins while he is leaving Dujail.
    • Qusay when he finds out that Uday had brained his father's favorite valet.
    • The biggest one takes place in Part 4, during the firefight with the Coalition, Uday sees that the Coalition forces is about to fire a rocket at him and Uday.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, the Kamel brothers have the "Saddam" and "Hussein" for first names.
  • Only Sane Man: Qusay Hussein is the most level-headed of Saddam's extended family and the one who is most shocked at the increasingly sycophantic nature of his colleagues, his father's grandiose proclamations, and Uday's...antics.
  • The Paranoiac: Saddam Hussein, much like in real life, is constantly suspicious of his closest associates of disloyalty and assumes that everyone is out to get him. Though in some cases, he's correct, or he's not suspicious enough.
  • The Patriarch: Saddam is the undisputed master of his household. In fact, many of the top-level members of his regime are members of his extended family, either by blood or by marriage.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: After Uday kills one of his father's confidants (he insulted Uday's mother by introducing Saddam to a new mistress), the enraged Saddam unleashes a beating on his son. While chewing Uday out, Saddam claims that he's upset not by Uday's violent behavior, but that there's no point to it.
    Saddam: You think violence is a pastime!? It is a tool! What are we? Barbarians?!
  • Propaganda Machine: Saddam was a master at it.
  • The Purge: Saddam performs this upon high-ranking members within the Iraqi Baath Party once he becomes President.
  • Rape as Drama: Uday Hussein. He rapes a waitress in the bathroom, serving as a good Kick the Dog moment.
  • Regime Change: The US/Coalition invading Iraq.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Delivered almost word for word by Ali as he guns down Hussein Kamel.
    Hussein: You call this fair, Ali?!
    Ali: (shoots Hussein dead) As fair as a traitor deserves.
  • Smug Snake: Hussein Kamel acts like he is an extremely capable general and politician who will easily slide into power once Saddam dies, one way or another. He's not. He's really, really not.
  • The Starscream: Hussein Kamel. It backfires on him.
  • Thicker Than Water: Saddam Hussein tends to fill positions in his government with his family members, in particular his father's extended family, the al-Majids, to secure his rule. Unfortunately for him, they're almost always a combination of sycophant, murderous lunatic, or ambitious.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: According to Al-Bakr, thanks to his rule - with Saddam as deputy - Iraq has schools and food for all of the people for the first time in history. He is deposed and Saddam's regime is quickly driven by megalomania and tyranny.
  • The Unfettered: Saddam states this as the reason why he decides to personally execute his closest ally and friend, Adnan Hamdani, to display his ferocity. Adnan has been nothing but loyal to Saddam, but a man who could kill his best friend as a show of strength is a man without weakness and is thus to be feared.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Saddam orders Barzan to raze Dujail to the ground after he was almost assassinated there. Barzan does so and is visibly distraught by what he's been made to do. When he reports to Saddam that the deed is done—while both are attending Barzan's daughter's wedding—Saddam "thanks" him by demanding he leave the country in 24 hours.
  • Villain Protagonist: Saddam, full stop.
  • Yes-Man: By Episode 2, with the death of General Adnan Khairallah, the entire Army is made up of generals too terrified or impotent to defy Saddam. Special mention goes to Hussein Kamel, who becomes head of the Republican Guard by being Saddam's son-in-law and refusing to challenge any of Saddam's orders.
  • You Are in Command Now: Hussein takes over as head of the Republican Guard after Saddam gives Barzan the boot and exiles him from Iraq.