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Hulu Presents a Refreshing Take on Being a Millennial Muslim in America with 'Ramy'
April 19, 2019  | By David Hinckley

Being a good Muslim and a good Millennial at the same time can be a really hard juggle.

That’s probably not something you thought about unless you happen to be both, but the dilemma is dramatized with amusing and often heartening results in Ramy, a new comedy whose 10 episodes become available Friday on Hulu.

Ramy Hassan, the man in the title, is played by Ramy Youssef (top), who co-created the show with Ryan Welch and Ari Katcher.

Ramy is a twenty-something, first-generation Egyptian American who lives in New Jersey and works for a tech startup that, so far, apparently hasn’t started much of anything.

As if to confirm his Millennial cred, this is fine with Ramy. A job seems to be a way to make enough money to do other things he wants. If this startup fails, he will shrug and move on to the next one. He’d love to find a career, but for the moment, a functional job works out okay.

He lives at home, further cementing his Millennial status, and if his mother Maysa (Hiam Abbass, right) and his father Farouk (Amr Waked, right) are bothered by his lack of driving ambition, they restrain themselves.

That isn’t the case with his personal life. Mother in particular is very concerned that Ramy remains single and does not seem to be on the brink of marriage to anyone.

She tries to motivate him with helpful remarks like “You’ll die alone,” a line he also seems to get from his pals.

He gets support from his sister Dena (May Calamawy, below), though not for any of the right reasons. If he gets married, she explains, she will come under intense pressure to get married and start producing grandchildren herself.

From her first exchanges we can see Dena will become a wonderful character, which she does. Calamwy plays her beautifully.

Contrary to the usual pattern in shows where someone is alone and wistful, Ramy doesn’t hole up in his room playing Fortnite. He has a girlfriend with whom he seems to have sex on a regular basis.

He’s hesitant, though, and he’s not sure why until a couple of conversations and events make him realize that trying to go full-on Millennial makes it hard for him also to be a good Muslim.

He wants to be a good Muslim, though, which means he must align the rest of his life with that higher goal.

It’s not easy. Ramy’s pals are fun-loving types and he enjoys good fun himself, though it requires some sleight of hand. He feels like he must pretend to drink, for instance, because all his friends drink, when in fact he doesn’t. As a good Muslim, he abstains.

Given the paucity of TV dramas written from a Muslim perspective, almost any reference to real-life issues like Islamophobia will seem striking. While Ramy focuses more on Ramy’s own struggles than on broader social issues, those become an inevitable ongoing element that the show handles well.

Interestingly, the primary means by which Ramy handles prejudice against Muslims is to show that Ramy faces the same challenges as virtually every person of every faith in New Jersey. He wants to do something interesting with his life. He wants to find a person with whom to share his life.

The path to both those goals is strewn with obstacles, some serious and some just banana peels. Ramy confronts them with a relentlessly good nature, which should make him endearing to viewers even when he sometimes will drive them nuts.

Ramy and other characters also get to make jokes we don’t hear often on TV shows, because so few TV shows focus on Muslim characters. Ramy gets to banter with his friends about the quirks of Islam because it’s inside the family.

The quirks of Millennials, we see all the time. We just don’t often see it in this package.

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