'That Means I'm Not A Good Muslim?' Islam In Today's World With 'Ramy'
With David Folkenflik
We talk to Ramy Youssef about his new Hulu comedy series that deals with living life as a faithful Muslim in today’s America.
Ramy Youssef, star, creator and producer of “Ramy,” a new comedic series on Hulu that follows the life of a Muslim-American man navigating the tradition of his faith with the wants and needs of the modern world. (@ramy)
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New York Times: “‘Ramy’ Is a Quietly Revolutionary Comedy” — “Ramy Youssef was home, in a manner of speaking. The Egyptian-American stand-up comedian had just finished shooting several takes of a scene for his new Hulu show, ‘Ramy.’ The set was a mock-up of his childhood New Jersey home and the scene took place inside the dining room. Pictures of Youssef and his sister were hanging on the wall.
“‘It was actually kind of emotional when I walked in because I hadn’t seen it,’ Youssef, 28, said last fall as he stood outside his faux-home, which was built in a Brooklyn studio. He added: ‘It doesn’t feel exactly like my house but the emotional correctness is totally there. It’s the right vibe.’
“The house looks like many middle-class suburban homes: A living room, dining room, kitchen, all unremarkable.
“But what is remarkable about ‘Ramy’ isn’t that it significantly differs from other millennial coming-of-age stories. It’s that it doesn’t.”
Paste: “Hulu’s Radically Optimistic Ramy Is One of the Year’s Best New TV Shows” — “A quarter-life crisis has never been sweeter than in Ramy. The half-hour Hulu dramedy follows a fictionalized version of star Ramy Youssef (who also writes many of the first season’s episodes) as he figures out life as a young Muslim Egyptian-American in New Jersey. Co-creators Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch, along with showrunner Bridget Bedard, find an endearing doofus in Ramy and plenty to say about generational compromise, religious identity, and culture clash. Ramy is easy to watch, radically optimistic, and a groundbreaking portrayal of Islam on screen.
“Ramy is trying to be a devout Muslim, trying to find the right girl, and trying to work a job that won’t make him want to kill himself. Master of None is the immediate touchstone here since Ramy is also a smart, romantically idealistic, and semi-funny streaming show whose protagonist’s culture is underrepresented on TV. Ramy, however, is no Dev. He’s not a millennial dispossessed of his roots, but a deeply rooted man disenchanted with millennial culture. But Master of None is only one of the series—along with Atlanta, High Maintenance, and Girls—with which Ramy shares similarities. Ramy operates in the same well-shot prestige comedy aesthetic and tone, balancing dick jokes with stuff like a 9/11 flashback episode, and bringing to bear a tonal and thematic confidence totally its own.”
AV Club: “Ramy is a Muslim millennial comedy with impressively big questions on its mind” — “The latest entry in the ever-growing genre of contemplative half-hour dramedies created by singular young comedic voices (think Girls, Master Of None, and Shrill), Ramy has a couple of unique calling cards: It offers a nuanced portrayal of the daily lives of a diverse Muslim community in New Jersey. It explores the Egyptian-American immigrant experience. It features welcome disability representation. And it moves beyond the perspective of its late twentysomething lead, Ramy Hassan (co-creator/star Ramy Youssef, playing a loosely fictionalized version of himself), to give complex inner lives to its supporting players. But maybe the biggest thing that sets Ramy apart from other thoughtful comedies about lost millennials is that its lead character believes in god.
“Religion isn’t just a general cultural background for the series, like Hannah Horvath’s Judaism in Girls. Nor is this the story of a young man clashing with his more devout Muslim parents, as explored in Master Of None and The Big Sick. Ramy himself is deeply religious and happily connected to his Islamic faith. Ramy explores familiar territory about hookup culture, career woes, and general aimlessness (Ramy lives at home with his parents and sister, and works at a tech startup that doesn’t seem to actually do anything), yet the show finds freshness in exploring those ideas within a religious context. Ramy is frequently very funny, with a particular deftness with dark humor, but it has a weighty question at its heart: How do you live a devoutly religious life in the 21st century, particularly as a young, single, politically progressive person?”
Adam Waller produced this hour for broadcast.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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