Socially awkward, she is unable to communicate with her fares, until she stumbles upon a Frenchman for whom she instantly develops feelings. The show is rooted in Ramy’s spiritual journey, and season two takes that to another level. It makes for a snapshot of quaint domesticity where everyone blindly goes through the motions. I am the opposite in this respect, as I let my guard down all the time with my family and friends. She’s annoyed by her brother and his entitlement as he explores his Muslim faith and tries to figure out what it means to be a “good person.” She experiences her own complicated relationship with her family’s faith. There are also some observant side characterisations, including the chaperone escorting one of Ramy’s dates; and the clingy Egyptians ambushing their American guest’s relatives for gifts. And there is some fun that’s being poked, but I don’t know if it’s fun or if it’s just hey, this is what’s happening. Do you have any dream plotlines for Dena? It felt really real for me. It’s almost like I was doing it for my mom. As a general ignoramus to day-to-day Muslim customs and the detailed beliefs of Islam, I can’t claim “Ramy” is authentic. And I think that’s the biggest message. Thus, while sex and alcohol are cast as the pillars of sinful, unIslamic behaviour the reasons behind this are never questioned nor examined. Is that for our benefit as an audience or how the characters cope with these pervasive issues? Q: These are unprecedented times, to say the least. And it felt so weird. 'Ramy' is no less shallow or formulaic in its own way than the average American mainstream TV drama. What is that hunger? This was much more of a struggle for me when I was younger, but as I’ve studied and understood where/how these cultural norms came about I have lived my life in a way that I understand makes sense. “But I was raised with it; it’s fully programmed in me. But the broader Arab-American narrative is far more complex and richer than Ramy’s streamlined anecdotes. But that’s as far as Ramy and his writers go in their examination of wider Islam. And it was so fear-based, and there was zero connection; it was mechanic. Indeed, the show’s best two episodes focus on each of his parents. It’s not easy for Dena to let people in because she doesn’t feel safe and understood within her own family unit, so it’s understandable why she is the way she is. And I see that Dena’s in that place where she’s like, no, I want to do big things. How was it actually acting out that storyline? He fails miserably, and after embarking on an affair with a married Muslim woman during Ramadan that his father soon discovers, he heads for Egypt, seeking to reconnect with his wider family roots and lead the holy, sex-free life for which he strives. We decided to make the episode around her anxiety and alopecia because I was going through both those things at the time. Q: Ramy strikes a more serious tone in season two. Jacket and shorts: Elisabetta Franchi, Heels: Vince Camuto. A: I am grateful to my family and friends for keeping me grounded. Sufism is an inclusive aspect of Islam that emphasises introspection, purification and the shunning of materialism. A lot of the things she’s frustrated about were so normalized and expected among all my friends (such as the micromanaging and overbearing family members etc). Youssef himself has won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Television Series (Musical or Comedy). She wants to get out of the house and she wants to be independent. In a recent interview with InStyle, you said Dena’s storyline has given you a hunger to tell more and share more. This Article is related to: Television and tagged Hulu, Ramy, TV Reviews. A: I felt like I was exploring myself through Dena. He does have views that I disagree with, and if I can at least open his eyes a little then I will feel accomplished during this time. Also, in the midst of her finding out who she is, maybe for her to find out her connection with her faith. His jumbled religious identity is a reflection of his equally disordered professional life. And with women, you have to be a virgin, and it’s hard work keeping up that front. But that’s not the case at all. Ramy Youssef, Dave Merheje, and Mohammed Amer in “Ramy”, When we meet Ramy, he’s approaching 30, working a go-nowhere job, and still living with his parents. 9” Is The Perfect Halloween Tune: BUST Premiere, Gideon Adlon On Unearthing The Spooky Truths In “The Craft: Legacy:” A BUST Interview, How Two Girls In Uganda Are Destigmatizing Periods, Week of Women: Ariana Grande, Tierra Whack, Dua Lipa, VOTE: 7 Artists Personally Invite You To Make History, Marlee Grace Helps Us Return To Self-Care In “Getting to Center”, Poland Bans Nearly All Abortions, Sparking Protests Across The Country, 5 Ways To Take Care Of Yourself And Your Community This Election Day. The answer, to which all Ramy’s roads eventually lead, is this: stop having pre-marital sex and consuming porn. Q: How is it as an actor portraying someone like Dena, who doesn’t really let her guard down? So, what does it take exactly to be a good Muslim? It feels really special. A: Surprisingly tiring! I appreciate that when people watch a few of the episodes, they notice the criticism of the anti-Blackness that is prevalent in the Arab community, and I love that the Sheikh is Black, because sometimes it feels — well, a lot of times it feels like Arabs feel almost an authority over the religion because the Quran is in Arabic. As depicted in Ramy, it accepts non-believers and gay and lesbian people, underlining, as Youssef puts it through the words of Amani, the beauty of “giving in” to the Muslim deity. His torment is derived from an artificial ideal he strives to become; an ideal, he believes, that could be his portal to happiness, fulfilment and serenity. I was so focused on acting and building a career for the last 5 years and now finally have the mental capacity to discover and invest in other interests. He’s always like, who wants to see someone doing everything perfectly anyway? And so I look at what Dena goes through and I’m not judging her, I’m not mad at her. Ramy, as introduced in the first season, is a twentysomething layabout millennial residing in New Jersey's large Arab community, who came of age in the shadow of 9/11. “Ramy” premiered at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival. It’s not just through men and your body but work and how you put yourself out there and taking space. A: 100%. Growing up in Bahrain, I wasn’t educated in Islam the way I’ve started to learn now. Remove Islam and Ramy’s spiritual journey and the result is a spotty panorama of Arab Americans that only occasionally hits the target. It’s here where the ideology of the show - if it has any - grows even more muddled. For me, it’s about where you are in your evolution. It’s an honest representation in that respect, too. But Ramy’s not lazy. So on top of it, I’m feeling like I should be grateful. The most obvious example is the Egypt-set finale of season one. Yet these too play out as mere ornaments to Ramy’s central story. Praying and fasting and committing philanthropy? That’s what this is all about. I didn’t get emotional about it. I was lucky as I moved to the US when I was 17, which helped develop my independence, while Dena is still living at home and hasn’t lived anywhere else. Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Episode 4, “Strawberries,” flashes back to Ramy at age 12, as he starts to explore his budding sexuality… right before 9/11 happens and attitudes toward Muslim Americans are forever changed. I used to protect myself the way she does, but I found that that protection leads to more pain and feelings of being stuck. But then, how many women out there actually want this because they're feeling so ashamed that they themselves tried exploring sexuality or that they themselves have had sex? Sometimes people ask, “Are you just poking fun?” And it’s more that Arabs — especially Egyptians — are a funny culture. And there was so much shame and fear in that world that something felt wrong. Eventually, Youssef’s fleeting political jabs become footnotes to a far less interesting narrative. I grew up in the Middle East, so for me personally, whenever I would come to the States, my faith was never anything I really spoke about and I didn't see it represented as much, especially not in a positive light. And knowing yourself sexually can bring you closer to God. I’m feeling great, and feeling bad, because I’m aware that there are people who lose their whole head of hair. They were able to have sex. They were able to make mistakes. in Hulu series “RAMY ... Estes would say), and maintain your “reputation” within your society as decided through its interpretation of religion. Please enable cookies on your web browser in order to continue. If there is sort of a loving way to just relearn that, that could be inspiring. The relationships between the various characters are inert, and lack depth and dynamism. I think that her wanting to explore her sexual identity is just really her control over herself. The Dena-centric episode in season two, “3riana Grande,” pales in comparison to last year’s stunning “Refugees,” which offered an intimate look at how May Calamawy’s character faces misogyny. Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress. One of my friends was like, oh, they did a really good job on that [bald] spot.” And I was like, “What do you mean? Dena’s bafflingly stagnant life is divided between a struggle to attain autonomy from her overbearing family and dispelling the orientalist perceptions surrounding Arab women. A: I’m generally a positive person, but I’ve had my ups and downs as I’m sure we all have. There’s a lot of undiagnosed colonial trauma that our parents have experienced, and so they have a lot of protection over the Middle East because of how it was viewed as less than or behind or backwards. He also touches on the disappointment and loss of the revolutionary generation in the wake of the 2013 coup. By season two, she’s starting to look at what’s missing. Did it feel scary to do an episode about your own alopecia areata? But for Ramy, a steady job does not mean a more stable, fulfilling life. Debuts. I feel like she’s at a place of being like, whoa, I’m being called, but out of desperation, whereas Ramy’s not even questioning his faith. What’s wrong with me?”. They were like, she’s actually scared and not sure. Dena has entire episodes in seasons one and two where she grapples with her sexuality and defining who she wants to be. And honestly, I feel so lucky to be a part of that. There’s a reckoning around race happening in media right now. They include muddled spiritual politics; a lack of tangible moral choices; over-simplification of religion; cliches about Arabs and Arab lives; a refusal to engage with politics; and the overall thinness of the material. Even more broad in characterisation is Bin Khalied (Egyptian-Dutch actor Omar Metwally), a wealthy Gulf investor who makes a habit of drinking the breast milk of a retired Lebanese porn star (Mia Khalifa) to cure himself from his sex obsession, before telling Ramy that he sold his own brother to Yemen in a business deal. “I love being an Arab,” he says, “but the reason why I put the religion in there is because everyone can relate to trying to be a good person. Ramy has garnered a lot of praise for bringing the stories of a Muslim family into the mainstream. It’s those parts that are gonna actually help us connect with people out there. Like it’s just you and that resistance and that’s good and that’s what we should go with.” And then I was like, “Okay!” And I realized on my own, why do we try to hide parts of us that we think are quote-unquote ugly or that we're ashamed of? Fashion Editor | Deborah Ferguson. How are you holding up? The moral conundrums that defined some of the best long-form TV drama of the past two decades - from The Sopranos to Mad Men and Breaking Bad - are absent. My mom passed away when I was younger and I never had that conversation with her, or asked her what dreams she had and I wish I had. The series stars Ramy Youssef as the titular character with Mahershala Ali joining the cast in a recurring role for the second season.. I have a lot to learn, but would love to produce and direct my own work one day.
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