When it was originally on: 2019-present
Original network: Hulu
Where you can stream it now: Hulu
Had I seen it before: I actually had seen the pilot before, but no episodes beyond that.
What IMDb says: Ramy, the son of Egyptian immigrants, is on a spiritually conflicting journey in his New Jersey neighborhood, pulled between his Muslim community that thinks life is a constant test, his millennial friends who think life is full of endless possibilities and a God who’s always watching.
Why I picked it: Ramy is one of my “oh, I’ve been meaning to watch that!” shows and has been for some time. It’s part of that whole half-hour character study thing that became a pretty big thing in the 2010s (Girls, Atlanta, etc.), and I’m still not entirely sure if such shows are a passing trend or here for the long hall. It should be cool to examine one of the more recent examples to see how this evolving genre is… well… evolving.
Hulu has yet to have a half-hour show really take the world by storm, but I knew I wanted to include at least one and Ramy is perhaps the closest thing they have. It won the 2020 Golden Globe, though I didn’t know The List was decided before that. It’s also one of the first Hulu comedies that I remember hearing at least some buzz about, and it has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Is this a hidden gem that simply isn’t getting the promo dollars it needs to take off? Is the fact that its Hulu instead of Netflix holding it back? We shall see!!
What I liked: I think the idea of a young person struggling with religion is incredibly common, yet very rarely shown in television, and so this aspect of Ramy is my favorite thing about it. Ramy believes in God. He sees the mosque as a place for prayer, and not for picking people up (or at least that’s what he tells his mother.) Ramy wants to be a good Muslim, but lives in a society full of pressure not to be. We learn that he doesn’t drink, but he does have sex outside of wedlock. He heavily implies that he would NOT want his girlfriend to ever get an abortion, while also insisting that he’s all for women controlling their own bodies. It’s portrayed not as hypocrisy, but as though Ramy is genuinely conflicted between two different world views. And I actually think a LOT of young adults raised by religious families deal with this, regardless of what the religion might be.
This internal struggle of figuring out which rules can be broken and which ones need to be followed is comes up over and over again throughout the pilot. When he meets an Egyptian woman who has similar westernized view point, he doesn’t know how to handle it. He lets his pre-conceived notions of what a “good Muslim girl” is get in the way of what could be a special connection. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to explore here.
What I didn’t like: As mentioned above, I had actually seen the pilot months ago but never followed up. I think Ramy is more like a well-executed short film, but it doesn’t leave me on the edge of my seat, dying to find out what happen’s next. Ramy is interesting, but I can’t say I’m particularly invested in him. I can relate to him, but I’m not empathizing with him to the point that I desperately want to see him find a nice girl to marry, or have some arc where he learns he’s better off alone.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: I know that these kinds of shows sometimes need a few episodes before I can really get into them, and so I would definitely give Ramy a chance, especially based on all the critical success it’s had. I can’t say it feels particularly urgent though.