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  • Premiered: 
    September 28, 2022
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: HBO
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Historical
  • Tags:

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Plot Synopsis

Directed by Joshua Bennett, Maro Chermayeff, Jeff Dupre, Abbas Motlagh, and Sam Pollard, HOSTAGES is a four-part documentary that chronicles the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979. On November 4, 1979, Iranian student activists stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking over 60 Americans hostage. What was planned as a 48-hour sit-in to protest American imperialism, ballooned into an international crisis and 24/7 media event that would last 444 days. With never-before-seen archival footage and new interviews with the American hostages and Iranian hostage-takers alike, the series explores this international deadlock, taking a deep dive into the geo-political history that led to the crisis, while exploring the political fallout that reverberates today.

HOSTAGES unfolds with ticking-clock urgency through the 444-day ordeal, while the episodes also travel back in time to explore decades of the complex, intertwined relations between the two countries. The series trains its lens on the complexities of U.S./Iran relations that emerge from a history of covert CIA operations, high-rolling oil deals, deposed leaders, revolutionary idealism and religious fervor, a lost presidency, and backdoor arms sales. Probing a range of perspectives on the complicated legacy of the crisis, the series brings groundbreaking historical moments to life through first-person accounts from former hostages, Iranian student revolutionaries and hostage-takers, diplomats, security experts, politicians and journalists in both countries. Subjects include: former hostages Al Golacinski, Kathryn Koob, Paul Lewis, John Limbert, Michael Metrinko, and Victor Tomseth; student revolutionary hostage-takers Ebrahim Asgharzadeh and Massoumeh Ebtekar; Gary Sick, National Security Council and Persian Gulf specialist; Chris Matthews, speech writer for President Carter; Mansour Farhang, former Iranian Ambassador to the UN; Mohsen Sazegara, former government official of the Islamic Republic of Iran and political dissident; Lesley Stahl, CBS White House Correspondent; Robert Armao, spokesman for Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi; Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, former President of the Islamic Republic of Iran; and many more. The four episodes premiere on HBO on consecutive nights from 9-11pm ET/PT:

"The Peacock Throne" (Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 9pm): The series premiere sets the stage for the political crucible of 1979, detailing how America and Iran went from deeply enmeshed allies to global adversaries. As the U.S.-backed Shah flees his country's revolution against the excess and repression of his regime, the religious cleric Ayatollah Khomeini rises to power and an Islamic theocracy is put in place. The U.S. embassy, a symbol of American imperialism and political interference to many in the region, falls under grave threat.

"Den of Spies" (Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 10pm): Exploring the unfolding chaos of the first days of the hostage crisis, this episode illuminates the motivations and ideals of the young revolutionaries who breached the embassy walls. Events take a turn when Khomeini sanctions the takeover and the hostage-taking becomes a watershed moment of Khomeini's repressive regime.

"The Sand Storm" (Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 9pm): The episode focuses on President Jimmy Carter's administration as the situation reaches a boiling point and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages' release fail. Carter decides to initiate military action, but Operation Eagle Claw is a disaster. Eight U.S. service members die, and the fate of the hostages hangs in the balance.

"The Transaction" (Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 10pm): The series finale finds both Iran and America in an exhausting, entrenched stalemate one year into the siege. As the Carter administration works furiously to secure a deal, the presidential election of 1980 approaches. Ultimately, the hostages are released on the day of Ronald Reagan's inauguration, and lingering questions remain about the role of the crisis in the American election. Although the U.S. hostages are ultimately returned, the individuals on all sides are impacted for life and the relationship between the two countries is changed forever.

All four episodes are available on HBO Max on Wednesday, September 28.

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Show of Force


  • - Iran