TV: Ramy (Season 3)

Hulu’s Ramy has always been a serious show, despite its many eccentric, humorous moments. But the series’ long-delayed third season seems to have been written from an even darker place. (Like, oh I don’t know, a neverending pandemic?) If anything, though, this makes the most recent session all the more powerful as it charts the struggles of young Ramy Hassan (Ramy Youssef) and his family in New Jersey.

The theme of the season appears to be compromise. Like season two, the show begins with a focus on Ramy himself before spreading anthology-style to stories featuring his parents, sister, and uncle. Following a disastrous attempt to find God in season two, Ramy pivots from his religious roots to focus on the dominant tenet of American culture: capitalism. At long last, he joins the diamond district business of his highly problematic, highly conflicted uncle Naseem (Laith Nakli), even going so far as to join forces with a Jewish partner named Yuval (Julian Sergi), much to his family’s consternation. Ramy turns out to be a much better salesman than expected, but as his fortunes rise, those of his family start to fall apart. The downward trajectory of the financial sitution of his parents Maysa (Hiam Abbass) and Farouk (Amr Waked) continues, while Ramy’s sister Dena (May Calamawy)—long the only well-adjusted member of the family–loses her way, as her legal ambitions are disrupted by lingering cultural expectations about her love life. Meanwhile, Ramy’s rising star coincides with business troubles for Naseem, who is also struggling to reconcile his inner desires with the rigid religious programming and right-wing misogyny that have shaped him.

Three seasons in, Ramy remains cringey and awkward, funny and enlightening. The decision to pivot Ramy from religion to vocation is a smart one, providing a new angle on his inner conflicts as an American-born Muslim. His compromise informs the other storylines as well, building out a tapestry of the challenges of reconciling multiple cultures. Evidently, Youssef hopes to conclude the series with a fourth season, and I’m hopeful Hulu will give Ramy one more green light.

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