Readings — From the October 2011 issue

Family Ties

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From character descriptions for the Afghan television show The Ministry, written by the show’s producers, Kaboora Productions. The show, which aired on Afghanistan’s Tolo TV in August, is shot in the faux-documentary style of The Office and takes place inside the Ministry of Garbage in the fictional country of Hechland.

Pompous and full of self-importance, the minister prides himself on being handpicked by the president to help rebuild the country due to his talent and intelligence. Truth be told, they’re blood relatives. Lacking in self-awareness, the minister fails to realize that his staff find him barely tolerable, but his obnoxious behavior rarely comes from a malicious place.

The secretary is the only woman working in the minister’s office and one of the few employees not related to him. Attractive, intelligent, and fiercely independent—to call her a feminist would be an understatement! Rather than hold that women are equal to men, she believes that they are vastly superior and is happy to share this view with her male colleagues. Although often annoyed by the minister’s harmless attentions, she is nonetheless aware that his simple, inoffensive devotion does have its advantages.

The adviser to the minister is completely out of his depth! Assigned to the job due to his father’s influence as the former minister of education, the adviser fears his ineptness will be exposed at any moment. He masks his anxiety with a brazen, arrogant demeanor, although his false sense of authority quickly evaporates whenever he is berated by the secretary for his ignorance or when he is compelled to bribe the overeducated butler for political advice.

The butler to the minister is a university graduate with a master’s degree in law and political science. He originally applied for the job of adviser, but, lacking any family connections in the department, he was offered the position of butler and accepted it in order to feed his large family. Clever, strategic, and manipulative, the butler is clearly more intelligent than anyone else in the minister’s inner circle and constantly wonders why he and the minister are not in opposite positions.

The administrative director prides himself on not being one of the minister’s blood relatives, although he is married to the minister’s sister and his sister is married to the minister. It’s just a pity that the benefits of this connection end there, as he is undoubtedly the most overworked and underappreciated member of the staff. Tasked with implementing all the minister’s edicts, from finding nonexistent funds to buying parliamentary votes, the director could blow at any time, and if he does, none of his colleagues will help pick up the pieces.

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