American TV Channel, Syfy, has recently started a new TV show, Alphas. It is about a group of people with extraordinary abilities.

Azita Ghanizada, an Afghan-American is playing the role of Rachel Pirzad, An Afghan girl whose superpower is magnifying her senses.

Rachel Pirzad is not an assertive woman. She is portrayed as a woman with this amazing superpower who is very passive. The show does not directly link her passiveness to her background but indirectly shows some relevance.

Her family considers her condition as an illness and feels that this illness may cause her to live alone for the rest of her life. In the story, her mother is trying to arrange her marriage with someone that she has not met yet. It also shows that her parents are obsessed with her way of clothing. The first scene she appears in episode 1 she is telling her dad that her skirt covers her knees. Very typical, indeed!

First, when I watched the show, I was a little angry for stereotyping. I even found it insulting. However, later I realized that they had actually done this very accurately.

There you have a young educated Afghan woman, living with her parents. She wears western style cloths and is not fully covered, however she is required to get married with someone that her parents choose. She is allowed to stay out late, however she must not date….

The story of Rachel Pirzad is very typical of a “modern” Afghan. It is the story of all of us Afghans in west who are stuck between the three cultures. We have our Islamic values, Afghan traditions and newly discovered western trends that for most of us are dominating. Most of us find it very hard to manage all that.

The society that we live in is not compatible with most of our values. Obedience to parents and respect is seen as weakness. At the same time, parents are overly protective and inconsiderate towards their children. If you notice, Rachel is not disrespectful to her parents. She is trying to have a voice and make her own choices. Her parents are pushy indeed, but do not seem to be the cruel type. All they want for their daughter is to have a secure future with a decent man from a decent family.

In the latest episode, there is a guy who has the ability to make people around him angry to the extent that they start rioting. In one scene when he uses his ability where all Alpahs are present, Rachel is on the phone with her mother. She becomes angry, starts yelling and telling her mother to shut-up and that she hates her, and that she will move out; the worst things that you could say to your parents, especially if you are Afghan. It is not clear whether she has decided to leave home or she was kicked out (which I doubt). However, she says to Nina (Laura Mennell) that she will stay with her cousin. Nina offers her to move in with her.

I am not sure why so much attention was paid to her life outside Alpha team. So far I haven’t been able to see any relevance. I am not sure how they are going to shape Rachel’s story in later episodes. It seems that there will not be good relations between her parents and her in the next few episodes, which is sad, really. She didn’t intend for it to happen that way and her parents are not bad at all. It cannot be said whether she will meet the man her mother found for her, or whether she will move back with her parents. Alternatively, it could be that her moving out becomes a pivotal point in her life and she can fully focus on her power.

We will have to wait and see.


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