Ramy is never an easy show to watch. It’s compelling and funny, but it never shies away from showing the (many) faults of its title character, and occasionally those of his family and friends.
Slight setup spoilers for Ramy Season 3 follow:
Going into this season, especially after the shock of the previous season’s finale, in which he cheated on and broke up with his fiancée and wife Zainab (MaameYaa Boafo) it seemed natural that we’d start with our protagonist’s redemption arc. But life lessons aren’t as clear cut for Ramy Hassan (Ramy Youssef) who, perhaps unsurprisingly, makes more terrible decisions that further compound his moral messiness.
As a result of his misdeeds, Ramy and his family have deep debts to pay. This puts his mother Maysa (Hiam Abbass) and father Farouk (Amr Waked) through the financial wringer as his sister Dena (May Calamaway) does all she can to help, but faces doubt about her own future and career. While initially working more with his Uncle Naseem (Laith Nakli) in his jewelry shop, Ramy then makes his own shop, which sees him make great strides, but moral complications follow throughout the season. And reader, it is enraging to watch.
But that’s the point of the show Ramy itself. The protagonist is a moral stumbler whose intricate and nuanced storylines make for a very compelling watch. In some ways, this season of Ramy ups the stakes on that by having him deal with unsavory business partners that spark justifiably moral outrage from his community. But Ramy simply must continue pressing forward in his business dealings to recoup the costs that he has incurred on himself and his family. Ramy Youssef puts his heart out in acting out the story he has crafted this season, showing all the anguish, joy, pain, and frustration he goes through.
And the supporting cast has a lot to work with as well. Farouk has by far his best season, as we see his journey to Egypt and his attempts to make smart investments that Maysa disapproves of. Waked is delightful and always engaging to watch, and it becomes clearer where Ramy gets some of his less-than-bright tendencies from in his family. Abbass, per usual, is luminous as Maysa. She goes further on her journey of self-discovery as she is finally able to reflect on the life she has built. She and Farouk undergo what may be the most trying time in their marriage as they deal with the fallout of Ramy’s mess, and the season puts them through it. Calamawy, fresh off her star-making role in Moon Knight, is always fantastic as Dena, who must prepare for the Bar Exam while dealing with the pressures of settling down from her family. But it is Uncle Naseem who goes through the most turbulent path of any of his family, and the results are wild to watch on screen in the second half of the season. But as always, Latih Nakli commands the screen with his passionate performance.
The other supporting cast is fantastic as well, including Mo Amer as “Mo” and Dave Merheje as “Ahmed,” the latter of whom finds himself in his own moral quandaries. Rana Roy as Ahmed’s wife Yasmina in particular is a joy to watch as she deals with the buffoonery of her husband. Steve Way is always delightful as well. Even though she has frustratingly limited time on screen, Bella Hadid makes the most of her first acting gig and leaves an awkwardly funny impression on audiences.
But Ramy Season 3 also makes an attempt at more meaningful social commentary on issues important for Palestinians and Arabs. In this effort, the results are mixed to positive, even while having a relatively noble message. It is of course good that Ramy’s third season addresses all these systemic problems, but it frustratingly often does so without the catharsis that people affected by them may want to see. Perhaps that’s the point? That so much for Muslims, Egyptians, and Palestinians is terrible as a result of Islamophobia, racism, and Zionist settler-colonialism. The viewer should be enraged and upset on behalf of these people affected, and Inshallah the show will be effective at instilling that empathy and more understanding from those outside their communities.
In any case, the show is self-aware, but unfortunately it may not be self-aware enough. It makes for an intentionally uncomfortable watch. It’s always been Ramy’s style of humor, for better and worse. Overall, it tends to be more of the better this season, making for some great and searing commentary, but mileage will certainly vary, especially with Palestinian viewers.
Ramy Season 3 is as funny and engaging as ever, but introduces even more wrenches in for the Hassan family. With a meaningful effort on social commentary, but one that perhaps could have used some more time in the metaphorical oven. One thing is for sure though. Like all the other seasons of this searing TV show, this will leave Muslim and SWANA people relentlessly talking.
You can watch all of Ramy Season 3 streaming on Hulu Friday, September 30.