'Manayak': Israel’s next big hit

'Manayak' is about corruption within the police force.

SHALOM ASSAYAG (left) and Amos Tamam star in ‘Manayak.’ (photo credit: MOSHE NACHUMOVICH / COURTESY OF KAN 11)
SHALOM ASSAYAG (left) and Amos Tamam star in ‘Manayak.’
KAN 11, the government channel, has had great timing with its recent series. Tehran, which just concluded in Israel and which will be broadcast on Apple TV soon, is a tense drama about a Mossad agent infiltrating Iran’s nuclear facilities. It was shown just as there was a series of explosions in Iran targeting nuclear and military sites.
The channel’s new series, the gripping and suspenseful Manayak (Hebrew slang for snitch or rat), is about corruption within the police force, and is perfectly in tune with the current moment in which there are mass demonstrations against the government and widespread questioning of authority. It premiered on August 2, with a second episode to be shown on August 3, also at 9:15 p.m. (episodes will also be available on KAN’s website following broadcasts).
Created by Roy Iddan, Manayak focuses on deep-seated corruption within the police force. The series works on several levels. On one, it’s a police procedural that focuses on Izzy (Shalom Assayag), a senior Internal Affairs officer who is about to retire.
We first see him in an emergency room after a health scare, and he is weary, but not of working. It’s the politics that go with the job that get him down. While he is there, he notices a badly beaten boy beaten who was brought in by two police officers, one of whom is the son-in-law of a senior colleague (Rami Heuberger).
Their story of how the boy was injured doesn’t make sense to Izzy, and he launches an investigation. While attending a party for a colleague with his wife, Eti (Orna Pitussi), also a police officer, he is pressured to drop it.
But this case is a prelude to the main story, which concerns an execution-style murder committed by a young police officer, Eliran Chen (Ofer Hayoun). Eliran is arrested but looks to make a deal, saying he has evidence that police officers are deeply involved in organized crime. (Note: This isn’t a spoiler, as this plot turn takes place early on.)
A high official in his department (Maya Dagan) brings Izzy in to work on the case because Eliran has named Barak Harel (Amos Tamam), Izzy’s former partner, as one of the officers who is collaborating with a crime family. Izzy is like an older brother to Barak, and starts out 100% convinced of Barak’s innocence.
But this is more than simply a crime drama. It’s also a look into the lives of the working-class men and women on the police force who are understandably tempted at times by the huge amounts of money that they know all too well are part of organized crime.
The details of the daily routines of the cops seem spot-on and they are not stereotypes. Izzy and his wife, for example, go out with another police couple and are perfectly comfortable eating at a trendy Asian restaurant.
It’s also a story about a man who is fighting against all odds to retain his humanity in a world full of compromises and evil. It brings to mind F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous comment, “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”
The series features performances from many of Israel’s most popular and acclaimed actors, including Tamam, who has become a big star in recent years, as well as the rapper Subliminal, who plays a gangster.
Parents should be aware that the dialogue is profanity-laced and that the action is very violent at times. But for most viewers, Manayak will be the latest Israeli show to become a legal addiction.