Its protagonist might be hapless, but Ramy Youssef’s series about Muslim-American life – now airing in the UK – offers a smart portrait of immigrant families, Islam and disability
In the opening episode of Ramy, the titular character – a young Egyptian-American, played by Ramy Youssef – is adrift. He visits a mosque to pray, but is told that he hasn’t washed enough. (“Dirt in your toe is dirt in your heart,” a fellow attender tells him.) He goes to an engagement party where his friends tell him he’s going to die alone, and his chances of meeting a Muslim girl in New Jersey are essentially nil. He tries to prove them wrong, and finds a girl from a similar background, but the resultant date doesn’t exactly go to plan.
A fresh – if at times dark and challenging comedy – Youssef’s series centres on family dynamics, girl problems and the struggle to be something resembling a good person. Despite much buzz in the US – including Emmy and Golden Globes wins – the series has, until now, only been available on the Amazon add-on StarzPlay in the UK, meaning that it wasn’t exactly being talked about on this side of the Atlantic. That may be about to change this week, though, as it begins on Channel 4.