Ever since Orson Welles shot parts of Othello in Morocco, filmmakers have flocked to the country with their cameras in tow. Films shot in Morocco include, The Last Temptation of Christ, Babel, Gladiator, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Inception, to name just a few. In addition to films, a number of famed TV series have been filmed in Morocco. Even I played a bit part in Kabul Kitchen, a French comedy series, shot outside of Casablanca. (These days, Morocco seems to be the stand in for any number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa.) I’d like to think that all the attention is because of Morocco’s richness and diversity. But for producers, other reasons might come into play, namely, affordability, low insurance, political stability, and little censorship.
The imperial city of Marrakesh has had its fair share of the TV series business. So if you’re a TV buff, see if you can spot where these five shows were shot in the Red City.
Game of Thrones
One can relive the grandeur simply by staying in the Selman Hotel in Marrakesh, and if you have a flare for the medieval, you can rent an Arabian horse from one of its stables. Season 3 was also filmed a few hours away in Ouarzazate where hotel bookings have increased by 100%.
America’s Next Top Model
In season 16, Tyra Banks and her entourage of models to visit the Jemma el-Fnaa square and explore the medina’s souks. As is expected from this genre of reality show, the models lose their cool, one by one. Then again it’s tricky to dance while balancing a tea tray on your head.
The Amazing Race
Marrakech is a challenge in a total of eight episodes in Seasons 3, 10, and 25 of the Amazing Race. You get a feel of the city and experience the tensions that escalate in the souks (as well as the animosity and alliances that form thereafter) before participants set off from Marrakesh.
Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
His episode on Marrakech is a visual degustation. You can almost taste the gritty and colorful reality of Marrakesh. The camera goes street-view as you take everything in while letting Andrew do all the dirty work of eating the lamb’s head or pigeon pie.
America’s new geopolitical drama draws its headiness from the souks, it opulence from the palaces, and its starkness from the slums. This rich texture opens onto an intricate world of brewing revolution, oppression, and international manipulation. Politically sensitive, Morocco itself could serve as a real-life antithesis to Tyrant, a happy ending if one could ever exist.