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Astana, Kazakhstan • 30 May 2023

Cheesy Kazakh References: Schwarzenegger Starred in New Netflix Series

The Hollywood star plays a veteran CIA agent who has to travel to Astana to catch a spy

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Netflix
Netflix

Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in the leading role of the Netflix television series FUBAR, the first episodes of which have a plethora of Kazakhstan 'references' (scare quotes intended), causing a stir in the Kazakh segment of the Internet due to its stereotypes about Kazakhstan, QazMonitor reports.

FUBAR marks Schwarzenegger's first major TV project and follows his character Luke Brunner as he discovers the truth about his daughter Emma's involvement with the CIA, leading to the realization that they both have limited knowledge about each other.

In the second episode, Luke Brunner travels on a mission to Astana (still referred to as Nur-Sultan in the show) on a spy mission. However, if you expect authenticity in references and overall portrayal of Kazakhstan in the show, prepare to be comically disappointed.

During his visit, he encounters Anna Fetisova, a Kazakh literature student at Suleyman Demirel University. Together, they uncover the identity of the antagonist spy when he is seen eating a bacon sandwich, as the characters point out that 'native Kazakhs don't eat pork!' Additionally, the show makes reference to a chewing gum called zharkyn kulki (a bright smile), which is a luxury affordable only to officials and oligarchs.

The cheesy 'Kazakh' scenes from the movie have already gone viral on social media. Most commentators find them comical, and how could you not, when the ultimate pickup line from one of the characters features such a linguistic gem as superkhanym ('super-lady', apparently).

Overall, it seems that more effort was spent by prop masters than voice coaches – if there were any at the set – as Kazakh ID documents look close to the real thing. But only if you squint.

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