Ramy-Season 3

There’s no buzz.

That used to be the mark of success, whether people were talking about it. You could feel it, it was palpable, you had to investigate, check it out.

Now almost nothing has sustained buzz. You’re foraging by yourself, deciding whether to dip in or not. Sure, there might be hype at the advent, upon release, but after that you’re on your own.

What is it, is it hard to gain traction on Hulu?

Then again, people were talking about “Normal People,” I still here it referenced now and again. Then again, it was romance-centered, it was not challenging.

Netflix still gives you the best shot. But only for a short period of time if the production does not turn into a phenomenon.

Amazon is a black hole.

Disney+ is seen as kid-centric.

The sleeper here is Apple. With little product, and that which there is is dripped out week by week. Apple has got the show with the most buzz today, “Bad Sisters.” It comes up at dinner, Felice’s hair stylist mentioned it. I haven’t started yet, I’m waiting for the final episode to drop next week. And people have e-mailed me frustrated about the week by week drip, and I do not think that created the buzz. I think it’s about the quality. Apple could win this race by focusing solely on quality, not trying to be everything to everybody. Apple sticks with a show as opposed to canceling it willy-nilly. It’s a more diverse HBO, but without the attitude. Apple’s whole business has been about appealing to the elite, the thinkers, the creators, those who are not brain dead. It just may work for them in the streaming sphere. And they’ve got enough money to wait it out.

Oh, HBO Max. Who the hell knows what is going on there. Canceling foreign development. Few HBO Max-specific shows. The merger with Discovery now has a stink upon it, the press mania is gone, will the company, unlike Apple, be hobbled by financial considerations?

Which brings us back to Hulu. What exactly is it? A cable substitute? With both new streaming fare and on demand network and cable shows? People say they must have Netflix, I never hear the same thing about Hulu. Sure, they’ve got “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but unlike “Stranger Things,” buzz has not sustained. People don’t think of Hulu when they think about made for streaming fare, which leaves some shows unseen, like “Ramy.”

You must watch it. On a most basic level, it’s the singular viewpoint of Ramy Youssef. Even the most vaunted comedies are written by committee, and they feel like it. Whereas “Ramy” feels of a piece, it doesn’t waver.

So the first season is the best.

And the second season is really good.

The third? It starts off slowly, almost a caper movie, and just when you think that’s going to be the arc of the entire season, it settles back down in New Jersey, the true locus of the show.

So what you’ve got here is…

An American family, but they’re Muslim. And they’re believers.

Farouk, the father, is a dreamer. As are many who find themselves at the bottom, they’re trying to get rich. His wife, Maysa, played so well by Hiam Abbass, is an intelligent thinker subservient to her husband under Muslim law, but not happy about it. She doesn’t want to hear contradictory opinions, but she knows something isn’t right.

Ramy’s sister Dena is trying to escape. Going to law school. Not wanting to live by conventional Muslim mores.

And then there’s the supporting cast, who are just as good, if not better, than the main characters.

Mo. An entrepreneur with a ghost kitchen is up-to-date, positively modern, yet is still a believer.

Naseem, a closeted, self-hating gay jewelry merchant who believes the world is against him, looking out for those who want to take advantage of him 24/7.

And of course Steve. Who has muscular dystrophy, but that’s not what you focus on, his identity shines through.

So, Ramy has given up his dreams and become a jewelry entrepreneur in order to pay the bills. The progeny of immigrants want to fly from the nest, be artists, live their dreams, but like so many in America, Ramy’s dreams died, reality interfered, he’s earning a living.

And he’s conflicted constantly by religion.

How much does the average person know about Muslims and their religion? Well, other than that terrorist thing, not much. And I’d tell you to watch “Ramy” for educational purposes, but also because it’s so funny!

And the mix of religious issues with practical life issues.

Ahmed is married, but his wife won’t commit to a baby, which he wants so much.

Mo wants Little Mo to win the Quran competition like others want their kids to win the spelling bee, or soccer trophy.

And everybody wants love. But religion is never far away, it plays a part, it interferes.

I wish Ramy was featured in every episode, but ultimately the focus on the supporting characters pays dividends, getting into their unique problems.

Dena working in a law office before taking the Bar Exam… She screws up. Every young lawyer does. And is reprimanded by a higher up, and usually not nicely. She has a crisis of confidence, is this the right career for her?

And Farouk and Ahmed plead their case in their respective situations and you think everything is going to go their way, but it does not, just like in real life.

And the desire of the flesh, the Quran says one thing, but your body says another. You want to have sex but have to hold off and do you end up inexperienced and…

Some are re-evaluating their choices, and others are too fearful to look inside.

Maysa is practical. They’re going to lose their house. She turns to Instacart. But when she delivers for friends, the issue of status comes up. Do you want to admit you’re struggling?

And everybody wants more.

I’ve told you so much, but really I’ve told you so little.

Just like Liv Lisa Fries in the latest season of “Babylon Berlin,” Ramy has grown up, he’s no longer a child, but an adult. He’s physically aged. And once you become an adult the rules change.

And there are issues of friendship. What you’ll do for others and whether you disappoint them and…

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is I strongly recommend “Ramy.” The third season might not be quite as good as what came before, but it’s not like the usual sitcom in later years, just proffering situations to keep the series going and the money flowing. The Muslim religion underlies everything, and whatever religion you may believe in, the questions remain the same: do you do what’s in your heart or what the good book says, does religion ultimately make you feel better or worse, to what degree is God involved in your everyday life…

In a three or four network world…

“Ramy” doesn’t even get made.

In the old basic and pay cable world…

Well, sitcoms are hard to do, and HBO has focused more on dramas.

And in the streaming world, now financially challenged, it’s becoming more about mainstream fare, that which catches on immediately, but in truth, that’s what “Ramy” is. Everybody can relate. How do we get everybody to partake? The hurdles are too high. You’ve got to subscribe to Hulu, you’ve got to find the time…

The old paradigm that if you’re great people will find you is dead. You can be great today and no one can find you.

But if you don’t watch “Ramy” it’s your loss.


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