Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sad Sack Syed

Here's a song to see Syed on his merry way:-

Yes, folks, very shortly, the single most underdeveloped character in the history of EastEnders will be bidding us a fond farewell.

Syed Masood.

Never did a character arrive with more potential who was wasted so decisively over the past three years he's been in the soap. The only thing positive I can say about Syed's leaving is that at least TPTB have kept his character consistent - he's leaving the same weak, whiny, entitled, dishonest person as he arrived. And that's a shame, because in the course of something called character development, Syed should, at least, be marginally different to the way he was when he arrived. Apart from coming out and acknowledging his sexuality, he's not grown in character at all.

He's still selfish, still attached to Zainab's apron strings, still pulled along by the short and curlies by any stronger character who arrives on the scene to dominate him - Zainab, Christian, Danny ...

The rule of thumb in fiction, be it written or visual, is that characters, most generally do progress from A to B in development. Syed was taken so far and then stunted.

From the getgo, we found out that Syed was the black sheep of the family, at least as far as Masood was concerned. Syed wanted to be the rich, successful businessman, but he didn't have the nous or the fortitude to achieve this. Consequently, when he arrived, he arrived under a shadow. He had been the person who'd embezzled from the family business and gambled the money on an investment, which failed and which bankrupted his family.

His father agreed to cover for him with Zainab - because Syed always was Zainab's favourite child - by assuming blame for the loss of revenue via gambling; but the price Syed had to pay was leaving the family unit.

He returned under a veil of disappointment as well. When he reached out to Zainab, he allowed her to believe he was living in a penthouse apartment in the Docklands, when he wasn't really. He was eventually allowed home, even confessing to his mother that he had been the culprit who'd taken their savings; but he was the veritable Prodigal Son made good, as he helped out in their latest business venture and presented them with a possible daughter-in-law in Amira.

Then, he fell in love with Christian.

OK, the gay Muslim angle was interesting and provocative. If anything, it allowed us to see really how weak Syed is, how he was able to let his mother pressure him into a marriage with a woman when he knew his heart lay with Christian. In fact, on the day Syed was forced into marrying Amira, in an encounter with Christian in the deserted cafe, Christian slams Syed with a few home truths about Syed's character which remained pretty consistent throughout his time on the Square. See the 5:30 mark ...

"Weak" and "cowardly" just about sums Syed up. Syed is also someone who not only casts himself as the eternal victim, but also allows events and people around him to determine which course of action to take.

Example: Syed never admitted to his wife that he was gay. He was outed by Lucy Beale's graffiti on the bedroom wall of the flat he shared with Amira. It was Christian who cruelly revealed that Syed was gay and that they'd been having an affair, after pretending to be Amira's friend. Just watch Syed's passivity in this monumental scene. Syed couldn't admit to Amira that he was gay until Christian forced the issue, and until Amira was emotionally beaten to a pulp. Watch the clip where Syed finally says that he's gay, when the camera pans to Christian's face, with a look of weary satisfaction.

This has ever only been Syed's modus operandi - do nothing until someone or something forces your hand. He did much the same thing at his wedding to Christian, only admitting what he'd done after the bailiffs arrived at the Argee Bahjee and only after Zainab had publically berated Tamwar. Even then, as in the clip above, Syed never ever apologised. In April 2010, he was content for Amira to bow to cultural pressure and accept the blame for her marriage failure (and Syed's gayness) and recently, he refused to take responsibility for bankrupting yet another family venture. Curiously, he managed to shift the blame onto Mas. Go figure that one.

After his outing and after he desperately tried to deny his sexuality again to his parents and to cure himself of his homosexuality, Syed and Christian eventually lived together, and that's when Syed's character development stopped.

As a couple, they were totally defined in whatever meagre storylines came their way, completely by their sexuality; whereas, Syed's character became a mere extension  - nay, an actual appendage - of Christian. Syed was Christian's boyfriend, and whilst we saw Christian moseying about the Square, drinking at the pub, partying with Roxy and intermingling with the yokels, we always saw Syed at home, in the flat, cooking, cleaning .

Isolated from his family (he was being shunned), with his brother only able to sneak in the odd visit, he had no ties at all, apart from Christian, with the Square. He was also unemployed and totally dependent on Christian financially. Christian moved freely about the Square. He had a job, he was friends with Roxy and he had family in the Beales. Syed had no one but Christian.

Even when he finally set up business as a qualified masseur, his dishonesty knew no bounds - his 25-minute friendship with Tanya resulted in the pair of them robbing Roxy blind, something of which Christian, curiously, approved. Yet still, he was a passive character, only daring to move when forced into action; but still, Christian called the shots - Christian deciding they would start a family and then deciding that Roxy would surrogate from them. Christian deciding that they would get engaged.

This all led to nothing more than the pair of them becoming glorified extras on EastEnders, until their leaving line, which is basically a rehash of Syed to the most pejorative point. Last year, Syed told Christian that he was the single most important thing in the world to him, even more important than his daughter Yasmin. This year, Syed tried to sneak away on the morning of his wedding, leaving Yasmin with Christian.

Syed, after all, thinks only about himself. Syed is Zainab on steroids. And Syed is better off gone.


  1. I don't understand how you can say how Syed's the most underdeveloped character in the history of EastEnders and yet you can still write all this about him? His development over the past couple of years has been subtle and slow-burning but it's been happening. The point of this storyline is that because he's spent all these years being pushed and pulled around by stronger characters, even after coming out, which should have been the moment where he finally allowed himself to be who he is, he still doesn't know who he is. His business venture and his dalliance with Danny has all been about him trying to identify who he is beyond what Christian presents him as a.k.a the man he made happy by "helping" him come out.

    Syed is quite a complex character really, but I think people are put off by Marc's dreary acting (which is a shame as he can be on fire when he wants to be) and the character's lack of likability... if they had made Syed funny or shown him helping out around the square instead of being a mini Zainab and moaning at everyone then perhaps we'd care.

    1. Ladies and Gentlemen, KatrinaK is in the building. Get ovrr yourself. I have my opinion, you have yours. Some people see Chryed differently than you. If you can't accept that, baby, grow up. Learn to expand your mind. Explore tolerance.

    2. I apologise if it seems that I was attacking you for you opinion, but I assure you that this is by no means the case. I challenged your opinion in the name of healthy discussion because I disagree with it (only the bit about Syed being the most underdeveloped character in the history of EastEnders anyway). I hope that this doesn't make me narrow minded or in need of growing up, but if this is indeed the case (and I wouldn't know if it was because of the whole being narrow minded thing) then I apologise profusely.

      However there seems to be a case of mistaken identity here. I am not KatarinaK nor do I know who she is. It sounds to me like you don't get on as they are one of those annoying Chryed ambassadors who don't seem to realise that other people don't like them, which probably explains the tone of your reply to what is (in my humble opinion) a rather mild post. In any case, is it really necessary for you to call me a baby, and tell me I need to grow up and get ovvr myself? It's a bit personal really for a difference of opinion over a television show.

      Again, I apologise for any misunderstanding.