The Second-Generation Dramedy You Shouldn't Miss
Streaming on Hulu | 2019 | TV-MA | 1 season, 10 episodes
Genre: Comedy Why We Watched: This show was barely on my radar until Ramy Yousef accepted the Golden Globe award for best actor in a comedy series two weeks ago. The actor–writer was charasmatic and self-deprecating in his speech, saying, "Look, I know you guys haven't seen my show." I turned off the awards show right then and there and started binging! You Might Also Like: The recent TV trend is all about the close-up. They're hyper-focused on super-specific protagonists, like in Fleabag (on Amazon), Atlanta (FX / Hulu), or Insecure (on HBO). As an Atlanta-native, may I suggest you start there? Earn (Donald Glover) will do whatever it takes to get his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) aka Paper Boi's rap scene off the ground. The journey is at times light and at times real heavy. As one reviewer put it, "Atlanta has a knack for giving you what you didn’t know you wanted, evoking surprise, delight, puzzlement, anxiety, and elation in the course of any given episode." Couldn't agree more.
So, in some ways, Ramy is pretty standard Millenial fare. It's about a twenty-something man who doesn't want to settle down. He's between jobs after his startup folded. Lives with his parents because of the post-Recession economy. Goes to parties, has casual hookups. He drifts through life, looking for meaning. Oh—and he's also a second-generation Muslim American whose parents immigrated from Egypt. And he came of age in post-9/11 New Jersey, in a time and place where Islamophobia was at its peak. But Ramy isn't trying to tell some universal story of what it's like to be a Muslim Millennial in the United States. It's also not strictly about Ramy, but also gives us insight into his family members, his sister, mother, father. "They’re messy, they’re ignorant, they’re loving, they’re a little racist, they’re . . . you know—they’re everything everyone in America is," the show's writer–star Ramy Youssef said. Technically the series is about Ramy Hassan not Youssef, but the show is semi-autobiographical. And while Youssef didn't want his series to be a PSA for identity politics, he knew from his standup career that a lot of American's have a pretty narrow idea of Muslims. "It was like, 'Wait, what? A dude who looks like you, that's in Brooklyn, is actually doing this thing, Ramadan, and actually believes in this thing, God?' It was probably the first time I was aware that there was a conversation to be had about what does it look like when you want to hold on to the culture you came from," Yousseff recalled on stage at the SXSW Film Festival. (Side Note: One of my favorite autobiographical elements of the show is Ramy's best friend Steve, played by Youssef's real-life best friend Steve Way. Steve has muscular dystrophy. The pair's chemistry is ridiculous, which makes sense—they've apparently been inseparable since fourth grade, just like in the show. ) In short, I really love this show. I find the characters equal parts shallow and deep, the perfect mix of flawed and endearing. And I think you will, too. Happy streaming!