Why Ramy’s Idiosyncratic Storytelling is More than just Muslim Representation on Screen.
May 22, 2020
Hooria Mohammad is in her second year of study at the University of Toronto where she double majors in Earth and Environmental Systems and Political Science, with a minor in Cinema Studies.
Ramy Yousef’s vehement, audacious, and unique Hulu series Ramy has proven this sharp comedy a salient viewing experience. The Hulu series Ramy, created by Youssef, Ari Katcher, and Ryan Welch, centres on Ramy Hassan, a first-generation Egyptian-American living in New Jersey. Ramy’s internal battles display his constant conflict with the dichotomy of philosophies his generation values and his religious beliefs. This not only mirrors a universal first-generation experience but explores his idiosyncratic experiences. Ramy is grappling with his faith and personal desires, interweaving Ramy’s unparallel generational identity. Ramy emulates the power in prioritizing oppressed Muslim voices and narratives. The depth and density of Ramy is rooted in not just the universality of the show but the detailed nuances and cogent personal perspective. We are all too familiar with the redundant and offensive convention of Muslims on
screen as terrorists that lack any nuance. However, the strengths and authorship of this show is asserted in Ramy’s flawed identity and unique Muslim experience. Ramy is proof why more representation produces better TV. Ramy takes the opportunity of representation one step further;
he presents a story that is not just a mirror being held up to his life. The depth and weight of this story is a by-product of Ramy’s insightful and amply detailed perspective, fearless of critique and unconfined from the restrictions of genre and form. Yousef’s scrupulous attention to
authenticity and utilization of personal experiences strengthens and promotes representation.
The episode “Strawberries” embodies the strength in Yousef employing his personal Muslim experience post-911 through expanding it to the broader Muslim experience in the US. The episode underscores Ramy’s alienation as an adolescent in the wake of 911. Engulfed in a fear of being framed a terrorist, Ramy’s character asserts that he is actually black because is parents are from North Africa. Simultaneously highlighting the ways in which his Muslim identity isolates him and mimics universal adolescent alienation. This episode humanizes Ramy’s character and forefronts the necessary discourse to be had in the US.
Ramy understands the value of representation and how vital and pivotal it can be in shaping society. This is exemplified in the series not being limiting to Ramy’s POV alone. The audience is gifted with two centralized and focused episodes on Ramy’s sister (Dena) and on Ramy’s mom (Maysa). These two episodes display the female Muslim perspective that contrasts
and compliments Ramy’s male-dominated attitude. The episodes give deeply personal accounts that expose the patriarchal norms each of them faces; along with the tribulations that can as a viewer feel slightly invasive. Personally, as a female Muslim with immigrant parents, Ramy’s
storytelling does not mirror my personal experiences but that is precisely why this show moves past stereotypical plots that are so often poorly executed recycled derivatives.
Ramy moves beyond the conventional storytelling of a Muslim perspective. A rare and bold narrative of a character sincerely trying to be a better Muslim but often has many shortcomings while navigating how to be the best version of himself and defining the complex
intricacies of his identity. Yousef’s unconventional and nuanced approach to exhibiting his personal experiences and perspective as a Muslim Egyptian Palestinian American do more than simply hold a mirror. Representation is vital for real progress and movement, without this TV
will remain static. Ramy’s density is grounded in Yousef’s audacious and uncompromising portrayal that is not simply universal but does something much greater,
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