Even though there’s not a lot to be merry about, we count our blessings and make it merry! We also discuss the wonderful 2020 film Gaza Mon Amour by director brothers Tarzan and Arab Nasser, which shows old love in the middle of Gaza, starring our fave Hiam Abbass. We also discuss the exciting news of We Are Lady Parts Season 2 renewal, Mena Massoud’s new Netflix rom-com coming out soon, and much more!
We’re excited to have Meg Humphrey of Rogue Podron on to discuss Star Wars: Visions, the new anime anthology on Disney+ that breathes fresh life into this franchise with Japanese creators, crafting stories in a universe that was *heavily* inspired by their own culture.Continue reading “The Middle Geeks Episode 32: The Promise of ‘Star Wars: Visions’”
We are delighted to welcome Abubakr Ali on the podcast, who will be playing the titular role in Netflix’s Grendel, making him the FIRST Arab and Muslim actor to headline a comic adaptation in TV/Film! We discuss what got him into acting, his career so far, what his favorite superhero and other media are, and much more. Enjoy the conversation!Continue reading “The Middle Geeks Interview: Abubakr Ali of Netflix’s ‘Grendel’”
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune adaptation, based on a book that was explicitly and heavily influenced by Middle East and North African (MENA) and Islamic cultures, is out, and we are joined by our friends and fellow MENA critics Hanna Flint and Roxana Hadadi to review it.Continue reading “The Middle Geeks Episode 31: ‘Dune’ Review”
Created by Jordanian creator Tima Shomali, AlRawabi School for Girls is a devastatingly excellent series on Netflix exploring the dynamics of a Jordanian high school. What causes these girls to escalate their psychological wars on each other? How does this series do at exploring some of the systemic patriarchal problems in Middle Eastern societies? We discuss all of that and why we love this series.Continue reading “The Middle Geeks 30: ‘AlRawabi School for Girls’ Makes ‘Mean Girls’ Look Like Cotton Candy”
Ferdosa joins us to discuss the Netflix documentary Lift Like a Girl! How well did this documentary do at showcasing the weightlifting journey of Asmaa and her team, and the depiction of everyday Egyptians? What could it have done better? We also discuss the exciting news that Black Palestinian writer and actor Yassir Lester will be the head writer of the upcoming MCU series Armor Wars, and speculate on what that might mean for the MCU’s penchant for military propaganda. Enjoy listening!Continue reading “The Middle Geeks Episode 29: ‘Lift Like a Girl’ and an MCU Assessment”
Palestinian historian and scholar N.A. Mansour joins us to discuss the situation in Palestine, where the situation stands now, how pop culture plays into the dehumanization of Palestinians, and what you can do to help and learn more about Palestinian people and their struggles. We also discuss all of Loki Season 1! What did we like about the series, and what themes resonated with us? Where could it have done better in areas? We also give our recommendations, and much more!Continue reading “The Middle Geeks Episode 28: Palestine in Pop Culture and ‘Loki’”
For Pride Month, we are so excited to have on Amin El Gamal, who plays Sam on the amazing queer Ramadan rom-com Breaking Fast, which is now on Hulu! We dig into what drew Amin to acting, the experience of filming Breaking Fast and working with Mike Mosallam, their thoughts on the current landscape of MENA and queer stories in film and, what he’d love to see more of in the industry, and much more!
We are SO excited to discuss Nida Manzoor’s We Are Lady Parts, a British series featuring a punk rock band of all Muslim women of color, including MENA women, premiering today on Peacock TV! What did we love particularly about this series, and how well does it handle representation? We also discuss the news of the additional Sandman for Netflix, including the Lebanese Razane Jammal, American Eid debuting on Disney+, and much more!
We discuss the most recent IDF and Israeli government brutalization and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza and East Jerusalem and discuss what the world and the US need to do to help those affected and end the occupation. We discuss what the daily reality is like for Palestinians in the West Bank through Farah Nabulsi’s brilliant short film, The Present, which you can watch on Netflix. Please do what you can to help Palestinians in need.
This month, we’re reviewing not one, but TWO series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+, and Nasim Pedrad’s Chad on TBS! What did we think of the overall series and finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? How well did it handle the sociopolitical and geopolitical themes it tried to tackle? How did Chad do a good job at presenting a normal Iranian American family, and what did we make of the cringe humor style? We also discuss some VERY exciting castings of MENA actors for the Black Adam film, give our recommendations, and much more!Continue reading “The Middle Geeks Episode 25: The Falcon, The Winter Soldier, and… Chad”
We’re joined once again by the wonderful Arezou to discuss and review the entirety of Marvel’s WandaVision on Disney+! What did we think the series did well, and what were areas it could have improved upon? How well did it do at exploring themes of love and grief? What do we think it says about the future of the MCU, and the standard it sets for character development and exploration going forward? We answer all that and more in this spoiler-packed installment of The Middle Geeks!
Spoilers for all of WandaVision throughout this episode
We’re joined by Mae’s sister Sonia to discuss the inaugural film of Algerian director Rayhana Obermeyer, “I Still Hide to Smoke.” How well does this film convey the experiences of living as a woman in Algeria in the mid-1990s? How are the themes explored applicable to women’s issues worldwide? How amazing is Hiam Abbas in the lead role (answer: incredibly amazing as she is in everything.) We also have a lot of MENA news to discuss, including the news that our fave Marwan Kenzari will be starring in the DCEU’s Black Adam! We also discuss Mauritanian-American actor Mamoudou Athie’s new film project, the announced tv adaptation of Hafsah-Faizal’s “We Hunt the Flame,” which takes place in a fantasy Arabia, the upcoming return of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the Writers Guild of America forming a Middle Eastern Writers Committee, and the exciting news about the establishment of Avatar Studios, which is expanding the animated universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra on Nickelodeon and Paramount+!
We are joined by our friend Tariq Raouf to discuss the upcoming film Breaking Fast, which features a gay Arab-American Muslim as its protagonist! We discuss what we enjoyed about the film, what director and writer Mike Mosallam was trying to say with this delightful rom-com, how well it does with representation for Arabs, Muslims, and Ramadan, and where it could have been better. Before that, in our MENA news segment, we have some GREAT news to discuss with Ramy’s May Calamawy being base in Marvel’s Moon Knight! And another of our faves, Rami Malek, has been cast in a lead role in David O’Rusell’s upcoming film! Enjoy listening!
Spoilers for Breaking Fast begin around 26:06
We are joined by the wonderful Hanna Flint to discuss Wonder Woman 1984 in this special bonus episode! We discuss the various ups and downs of the film, how well we thought the actors did with the script and story they had, and whether this movie did Diana Prince/Wonder Woman justice. We also discuss the many racist and Orientalist aspects of its depiction of Egypt and Egyptian people, and how detrimental it is for MENA representation. There’s a LOT to discuss, and we go through it all. Enjoy listening!
Spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984 begin around 11:26.
TW for discussion of rape and sexual assault 11:44 -12:57
We’re back with a LOT to discuss. Joining us is a prolific cosplayer, streamer, and friend, Jasmin! We discuss Jasmin’s cosplaying and how the cosplay community has been doing in quarantine. We also discuss the announcement of a queer Ramadan rom-com coming out next month, highlights of the MCU announcements from last week, and how MENA people are WINNING as directors for Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight, why we’re so excited for these series, and our thoughts on the castings (and on the ones that are controversial), and discuss Netflix’s Mosul as our movie of the month. Enjoy!
This month we’re joined by filmmaker Shahab Zargari to discuss Netflix’s new supernatural series Paranormal, a supernatural drama set in Egypt, with a story actually told by Egyptians! We’re excited to dive into this overall excellent show. We also interview Shahab on his filmmaking career and what drives his art, discuss the roller coaster of recent Arrowverse news and what it says about DCTV moving forward, and give our recommendations. Also, we have a very special announcement!
This month we’re discussing films we watched as part of Washington DC’s Arabian Sights Film festival. With films from Palestine, Lebanon, Tunisia, and more, this festival conveys the array of work being done by MENA filmmakers and we are so excited to share our thoughts with all of you! But before that, we discuss the exciting news of DC/Warner Brothers casting Iranian-American actress Sarah Shahi for Black Adam, the not-so-exciting news of Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins teaming up for a Cleopatra film, and a continuation of our discussion of “cancel culture” regarding a certain Chris (he’s a rich white cis-het man, he’ll be fine y’all). Enjoy listening!Continue reading “The Middle Geeks Episode 18: DC’s Arabian Sights Festival and DC’s MENA Heroes”
We’re excited to have on TV writer, blogger, and Star Wars fan Arezou Amin on to discuss the long history of MENA people being excluded from Science Fiction and Fantasy media. Why are we constantly ousted from stories that were, in fact, inspired by works based on the Middle East and our culture? Where could we even find ourselves? We discuss Arezou’s project with Postcards from the Galaxy’s Edge featuring Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Star Wars fans, and what she and the podcast hoped to achieve with it. We also discuss various DCTV news, including the Legends of Tomorrow panel at DC FanDome and the future of Zari and Behrad Tarazi in Season 6, Supergirl ending with Season 6, and Caity Lotz’s bufoonish tweets, and the news that Alia Shawkat is creating and starring in a series based on her family’s Iraqi immigrant experience!
We’re starting spooky season a bit early this year with a review of Iranian-American film director Ana Lily Amirpour’s 2014 horror classic “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.” What makes this film so unique in its abstraction and commentary, and how effectively does it pull it off? But before that, we have a heavy news section discussing police violence and brutality in the US, the recent explosion in Lebanon that has exacerbated the country’s numerous problems, and, on a much lighter note, we discuss the plethora of entertainment news out of DC Comics’ online convention DC FanDome!
We have a PACKED episode this month. After discussing some excellent and exciting MENA entertainment news, Mae and Swara review Netflix’s The Old Guard, which is directed by the incredible Gina Prince-Bythewood and stars one of our favorite MENA actors Marwan Kenzari! But before that, we have an open and frank discussion about “cancel culture,” why it scares powerful and privileged white people so much, and how if they just actually devoted themselves to be better people they wouldn’t have to worry about being “canceled.” Enjoy listening!
Spoilers for The Old Guard being around 1:12:00.
In this episode, we discuss systemic Anti-Black racism, how it crops up in MENA communities, and how we should address it. We discuss how we can start important and difficult conversations with friends and family, and how we should show solidarity with the Black community in the fight for racial justice.
We’re joined by Nawal Rajeh, a community organizer and activist who co-founded and runs the non-profit By Peaceful Means, which works with youth in East Baltimore, MD around issues of peace and justice.
In the latest episode of The Middle Geeks, we review Hulu’s Ramy Season 2, dropping on Hulu May 29! We were able to watch the season in full, and give a non-spoiler review followed by a full-length SPOILER review. We mark the timings for these discussions below, so be sure to watch the season first if you don’t want spoilers! How did this season of Ramy improve from Season 1? Why was Mahershala Ali’s character such a standout? How were the characters we were introduced to develop further this season, and how surprising were their stories? How did Ramy Youssef seek to make a messy and irreverent story about this Egyptian-American Muslim family, and how well do he and the show team do that? We also have a difficult discussion about the new show Stargirl and how specifically it relates to the lack of MENA and women of color headlined DCTV shows, give our recommendations, and much more!
Ramy Season 2 discussion beings at 15:48, with a full SPOILERS discussion 27:39-1:34:03.
Music credit: Music Laounga 79 by El Masreyen, the album “Horreia,” used as opening music for Ramy