Opinion: Golden Globe worthy scenes in “Ramy” season two

Arts & Entertainment

Greg Shannon, Staff

Header image: A24 Productions

“Ramy” is an A24 Productions series made by standup comedian Ramy Youssef. In 2020, Youssef won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as himself in “Ramy.” The series is made up of semi-autobiographical tales about the Egyptian American trying to better himself as a Muslim man while dealing with the tough societal norms that come with being a single millennial in today’s society. While this show is honestly sprinkled with great comedy, shots and moments, I don’t think that the ‘Golden Globe moment’ comes from season one. Some may ask, “how can the first season not have that kind of a moment when it won a Golden Globe, but season two was only nominated?” I completely understand that, but the moments I’m talking about are completely different. I mean the moments where you stop what you’re doing, where you’re completely glued to the actions and dialogue, where you forget that it’s just acting. That’s not to say that season one doesn’t have some moments like this — for example the 9/11 episode and the conversation between Youssef and his father Farouk about their relationship with his grandfather are amazing — but it just doesn’t compare to some of the stuff we get in season two.

If there’s one thing that “Ramy” did right, it makes you feel uncomfortable but in a good way. “Ramy” made me really want the best for the characters in the show while I was forced to just sit and watch the lows. Now, it’s not that with any other show I’m wishing the worst for the characters in it, however, there was something different with this show — just something special that made me root for them a bit more. Is there some bias from my perspective as a native of New Jersey, where the series takes place? Yes. Do I just want to see my Jersey kings and queens succeed in life after the tragic “Jersey Shore?” Also yes — who cares? There was something different about the characters that really drove me to this connection and that came in season two.

When you’re talking about the great moments of this show you have to look at one of the later episodes. In episode seven, which takes place in Atlantic City, Youssef and his friends end up at a strip club, which visibly upsets him. At this point, Youssef is doing a pretty good job with his journey to be a better Muslim, and after a situation with a stripper and his prayer beads he angrily goes to the bathroom. This leads us to the first scene that really grabbed me. In the bathroom, Youssef argues with the friend that cares for him the most, Ahmed. After he complains to him that he just doesn’t want to be there, he ends it with a phrase that crosses the line for Ahmed. Youssef breaks the conversation with “I expected better from you.” At this moment, Ahmed loses it and starts to honestly point out how horrible he thinks Youssef is and how he makes him feel like a bad person. Ahmed tells him how he feels like he is wasting prayers on his friend. He tells him how those prayers could be going to refugees that actually need them, but he feels more inclined to give them to Youssef because he knows that just being him is a struggle. Ahmed talks about how he has to struggle with that decision every day. This is probably the most real and authentic conversation in all of “Ramy.” Normally, they’re just putting up with his problems, but now someone is finally speaking out, showing how the choices Youssef makes hurts them whether it be physically or mentally.

But that’s not the only episode that we need to focus on. We also have episode eight of season two. In this episode, we focus more on the side character Farouk than we do Youssef, really. The main premise is that Youssef wants his parents to meet his girlfriend. That premise still plays a big part, but we see how it weighs on his father. Farouk’s day is already hard enough, as he’s throwing away his name just so he can try to get a better job and being asked to leave the coffee shop because someone doesn’t feel comfortable with him speaking Arabic on the phone. All of this boils up until the end of the episode where Farouk meets Zainab and her father Sheikh Ali Malik. After Farouk storms out of the house when he goes on a rant about how he takes care of everything, we are greeted with him outside on a park bench, Youssef joining him. In this scene, the dialogue is spoken in Arabic, with some parts purposely untranslated. At this moment, Farouk opens up to his son about how he doesn’t want to lose him, how he’s always worried and that it’s his job to be worried. He explains to Youssef that this is a father’s job and that eventually when he is a father as well, he won’t be able to live in the present anymore, he’ll have to live in the future.

Craig Blankenhorn / Hulu

The most moving moment in the series comes in the episode titled “You Are Naked in Front of Your Sheikh.” The ending of this episode is what really makes me believe it is Golden Globe worthy. At the end of the episode, Youssef’s teacher, Sheikh Ali Malik, is sitting in his room. In this instance, you can see the disappointment and anger in this man. Malik had let this man into his life and dealt with the hardships that followed with it. He dealt with the negative press that Youssef gave his mosque, to his religion and to him. He dealt with the donors that backed out because of Youssef’s actions. Most of all, he let Youssef into his personal life by allowing him to date his daughter. When Youssef breaks up with her, it was the last straw for Malik. Before this, every time he talked to Youssef, it wasn’t personal. Malik talked to him as a teacher talked to a student. Even when talking to Youssef about dating his daughter, you could still feel that there was some restraint for his student. However, at this moment Malik speaks to Youssef as a person, and one who betrayed his trust. After Youssef hurt the person closest to him, the teacher releases a sharp “F**k you Ramy. F**k you, you little f**k.” This is the Sheikh at his boiling point. He’s fed up with the lies, the excuses and all of his pain. This is how Malik has to talk to Youssef for the point to finally get across. Youssef hurts people, “he’s dangerous,” according to Malik. Because of this, Malik ends it by telling Youssef that he can’t help him. The Sheikh has been given humility through our main character.

This series is honestly something special. These moments show just why “Ramy” is worthy of its praise and of its Golden Globe and nominations. I would honestly recommend watching this show. While the series doesn’t touch on every Muslim experience in America, it does touch on Youssef’s, which is both unique and human. The story does not attempt to be controversial, overly-artistic or broadly relatable, it is a character piece on the artist that is Ramy Youssef.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s