Ramy’s trip to Palestine in Season 3 is groundbreaking

Ramy (Ramy Youssef) in Season 3, Episode 3,

Ramy (Ramy Youssef) in Season 3, Episode 3, “limoges”
photo: Jon Pack/Hulu

When I first discovered it ramy in April 2019 I was in a transitional period. My grandmother had died just two months earlier, and after attending her funeral and meeting family I hadn’t seen in decades, I began to regret having strayed so far from my Palestinian culture and identity as a Muslim had removed. I was in shambles trying to figure out what to do when suddenly the universe spoke to me and told me I needed to see this show.

For someone who ran away from their culture because they only saw themselves as a villain on screen, ramy was more than just a television series. When I heard Arabic coming through my TV speakers, it took me back to my own childhood, when I heard Arabic every day. Seeing Ramy doing wudu (the purification ritual before prayer) and praying at the mosque in the pilot reminded me of how I used to go to the mosque with my father every week, no matter how hard I fought to stay behind. Discovering and watching this show that year filled me with pride in my culture and faith that I had lost over two decades ago, and four months later I stopped using my fake American name and asked for mine Friends to call me Tariq again.

That is the effect of television. Year for year, ramy has proved to be a beacon of hope for me and countless other Muslims. It broke records as the first Muslim show to win a Golden Globe and be nominated for an Emmy. It shook American expectations of life as a Muslim and reminded audiences that we are not a monolith, that we often break with the forms society expects of us just because we speak Arabic or “Allah” instead of “God.” say.” And it did all of that while making you laugh.

In every season of this show, including the third, which ended September 30, lewd jokes and storylines are deliciously sandwiched between profound and relevant comments about society. Youssef isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade, with episodes debating racism, misogyny and homophobia. He has a platform and he knows how to use it. And season three is all about a story I never thought I’d see explored so honestly on a streaming service. This season he’s taking us to Palestine.

Yuval (Julian Sergi) in Season 3, Episode 2,

Yuval (Julian Sergi) in Season 3, Episode 2, “Egyptian Cigarettes”
photo: Jon Pack/Hulu

After cheating on his wife with his cousin on their wedding day (which was as hard to type as it was to watch), Ramy starts the season at a new low. He owes a large dowry sum to his now ex-wife and her family, and he is unfaithful. Once trying to figure out how to be a good Muslim, he has now stopped praying and cannot answer anyone when asked if he believes in God. Then his Jewish colleague Yuval (Julian Sergi) informs him about a business opportunity to sell diamonds for an Israeli diamond dealer, for which he has to travel to Jerusalem. And while this new business opportunity is proving lucrative, it pits him against Ramy’s Palestinian uncle and gets him into deals with some shady people. It doesn’t take long for Ramy’s self-destructive tendencies to take over and he finds himself in a mess that’s somehow even bigger than what he got himself into last year.

As for the other characters this time? They may not have to deal with something as difficult as working for Israeli diamond dealers cutting off your fingers if you step out of line, but they all find themselves in far bigger battles than ever before. Deena’s (May Calamawy) quest for healing leads her to turn not only her own life upside down, but someone else’s as well; Uncle Naseem (Laith Nakli) is forced to confront his relationship with his sexuality when he becomes a laughingstock; Farouk (Amr Waked)’s desperation for income and a steady job causes him to make questionable decisions; and Maysa (Hiam Abbass) faces her own misfortune.

That is ramy at its best, where powerful performances from an excellent cast come together to tell us an epic story about family. Everyone on the show has to come to terms with what life has given them and what they have made of it. Even Ahmed (Dave Merheje) and Mo (Mohammed Amer) end up in shitty situations that make them reevaluate things. And while these stories are beautifully told in an often episodic nature, together they weave a season that is a remarkable commentary on what happens when your past catches up with you and forces you to reconsider the future you thought was has already been disclosed.

But let’s return to Palestine, because the recording of an episode shot on location in Haifa and Jerusalem (“Egyptian Cigarettes”, Episode Two) produced by Abbass (who is herself a Palestinian) is worth exploring. In August, Youssef’s series, Monwith whom he has worked ramy Alum Mohamed Amer was the first streaming show to tell the story of a Palestinian family seeking asylum in America. Now Youssef has taken over the platform and given the Palestinian Americans a representation we never dreamed of before.

Rami | Season 3 Trailer | Hi

For some viewers watching ramy will be the first time they see Israel split Jerusalem in half between the Jewish-populated west, where his business takes place, and the Arab-populated east, where he is attempting to meet a Palestinian woman for a date. It will be the first time they’ll be shown the massive concrete wall dividing the population, or the barbed-wire fences that line checkpoints, where commuters could be forced to wait hours to get through. ramy does not need to comment on what is happening in Jerusalem to show how much Arab/Muslim citizens are suffering under military rule.

And then ramy goes where no other show has been brave enough to go when the title character accidentally has a Palestinian boy arrested by the Israeli military for stealing his jacket, a plot point that begins in this second episode and continues through the end of the season. To me, this deliberate inclusion of the way the Israeli government holds children for petty offenses is an indication of how keen Youssef is in using his platform for something bigger than himself. This year alone have more than 450 children been arrested by the Israeli military for similar offenses and just last month a Palestinian activist, Ahed Tamimi, published a memoir about her experience of being jailed by Israel for eight months when she was just 16 for hitting a soldier in her front yard. Youssef could have chosen not to include this story, just show the barricades and be done with it, but the thoughtfulness of this arc shook me to the core and I can’t believe we got to see it.

i fell in love with ramy 2019 because it taught me that it is possible to embrace both my Muslim/Arab and American/Queer identities. When there were no other Muslim programs on TV, it gave me a glimpse of the community I so desperately wanted to be welcome back to. And in its third season, that love was renewed because of its earnest, honest portrayal of the Palestinian experience.

https://www.avclub.com/ramys-trip-to-palestine-in-season-3-is-groundbreaking-1849602566 Ramy’s trip to Palestine in Season 3 is groundbreaking

Andrew Schnitker

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