Why you should be watching Ramy
Ramy, the Hulu comedy/drama series created by and starring Ramy Youssef, is one of the most audacious and gutsy shows currently on television. The series just debuted its third season, with all ten episodes dropping on September 30, and is deeply invested in providing much-needed representation for Muslim Americans on television, but that’s far from the only worthwhile thing about it.
There’s outstanding character work done in every episode. The series isn’t afraid to depict its characters, even its lead, as messy or even despicable at times. It’s a rare show that cares about religious faith, even as characters struggle with it- one to which Muslims can certainly relate, although you don’t have to be one to appreciate it.
And beyond all that, it’s often very funny- its creator, after all, is a comedian.
Ramy, which debuted in April of 2019, stars Youssef as Ramy, who is not a comedian but rather a guy trying to make it in the jewelry industry. He’s from a family of Egyptian immigrants to northern New Jersey, including his mother and father (Amr Waked and Hiam Abbass). Abbass, who also plays Brian Cox’s wife on Succession, is especially a highlight as the conflicted wife and mother.
Also in the house are Ramy’s sister Dena (May Calamawy), an aspiring lawyer, and the series’ best character, boorish uncle Naseem (Laith Nakli), an obnoxious anti-Semite who, we learn very early on, has a big secret. Introduced as a wildly awful figure, he’s taken on surprising death as the series has gone on.
The Ramy character is a unique one. He’s a guy in his late 20s who is trying to be a believing Muslim, while also trying to date and make money. In the third season, he’s faced with the choice of whether to visit Israel for a business opportunity.
Through three seasons, the series has built out its world, introducing ancillary characters and sometimes even giving them their own episodes.
The genius of the show is that it goes into these culturally specific situations and manages to wring humor out of them. In the new season, Dena goes to therapy and gets some insights about her relationship with her sexuality, but then realizes her therapist (Amy Landecker) is a huge racist. Then, others in her therapy group are asked to “role-play” as her parents and ignorantly turn it into an improv class, with the guy playing her father as a bad Borat impression.
After the second season’s coup of bringing in two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali as a guest star, the third season had amusing brief guest appearances from the likes of James Badge Dale (as a white Muslim influencer), Sarita Choudhury, Christopher Abbott, and Bella Hadid, as a girlfriend who’s incapable of speaking without pivoting back to her favorite TV show, The Office.
Ramy has won awards, including a surprise Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a comedy series after the first season, when the series also won a Peabody award. There’s no word on a fourth season yet, but Ramy is absolutely worth catching up on, with all three seasons on Hulu.