The Middle Geeks Episode 28: Palestine in Pop Culture and ‘Loki’

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!

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The Middle Geeks Interview: Amin El Gamal of ‘Breaking Fast’

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!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 27: ‘We Are Lady Parts’ Review

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!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 26: ‘The Present’ in Palestine

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.

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The Middle Geeks Episode 25: The Falcon, The Winter Soldier, and… Chad

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!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 24: ‘WandaVision’ Review

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

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The Middle Geeks Episode 23: ‘I Still Hide to Smoke’ and a Plethora of MENA News

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+!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 22: ‘Breaking Fast’ Review

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

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The Middle Geeks Episode 21: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ and its MENA Issues

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

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Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and Mosul

The Middle Geeks Episode 20: Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and Mosul

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!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 19: ‘Paranormal’ Activity in Egypt (on Netflix)

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!

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Arabian Sights

The Middle Geeks Episode 18: DC’s Arabian Sights Festival and DC’s MENA Heroes

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 … Continue reading The Middle Geeks Episode 18: DC’s Arabian Sights Festival and DC’s MENA Heroes

The Middle Geeks Episode 17: MENA in the Stars and Middle Earth

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!

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DC FanDome: ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Cast and Producers on What to Expect in Season 6

Spoilers for Legends of Tomorrow Season 5 and some mild spoilers for Season 6 follow. Quotes have been edited for length and clarity. It’s the wackiest, one of the most beloved, and critically revered of all the DCTV shows. In a panel moderated by Chancellor Agard of Entertainment Weekly, most of the cast and some of the creative heads of Legends of Tomorrow, including Caity Lotz, Nick Zano, Tala Ashe, Jess Macallan, Matt Ryan, Amy Lousie Pemberton, Shayan Sobhian, Olivia Swann, producer Phil Klemmer, executive producer Keto Shimizu, and executive producer Grainne Godfree, the Waverider crew and more reflected on Season 5 and what fans can expect from Season 6.

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The Middle Geeks Episode 16: ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’ Review and DC FanDome

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!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 15: “The Old Guard” Review and “Cancel Culture”

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.

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The Middle Geeks Episode 14: Addressing Anti-Black Racism in MENA Communities

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. 

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The Middle Geeks Episode 13: ‘Ramy’ Season 2 Review

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

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The Middle Geeks Episode 12: The Perils and Implications of Excluding MENA People from ‘Dune’

The internet was abuzz a few weeks ago when the first photos for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune 2020 adaptation came out, but where were all the MENA people who should have been cast in a work clearly informed by the Middle East and its people, down to blatantly using Arabic and Persian words? In our exasperation at this blatant exclusion, we have our friend and lifelong Dune fan Rocky on again to discuss why this is troubling and its overall implications for MENA representation in Hollywood. Why did Warner Brothers and Villeneuve not cast any MENA actors or We’re very tired. We also discuss the return of Legends of Tomorrow and what we thought of Tala Ashe’s mesmerizing performance, give our recommendations for our collective time in quarantine, and much more!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 11: Quarantine Edition

This month on The Middle Geeks, we’re recording from home, per usual, but it feels different this time as we literally have no other choice of location to do so. It’s Quarantine Edition! In the midst of the craziness that is COVID-19, we discuss how the entertainment industry has been affected, with various movie and tv productions having been pushed back, why some celebrities aren’t taking this situation so well, and ultimately what is needed on a public policy level to alleviate this crisis. We’re keeping up that balance of fun and serious stuff as always! Enjoy!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 10: Character Spotlight on Zari of ‘Legends of Tomorrow’

This month on The Middle Geeks, we’re joined by our friend and fellow DCTV fan Andy Behbakht to discuss why we love the character Zari Tomaz/Tarazi on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow so much. This character brings such wonderful representation, for which we’re very grateful. What does Tala Ashe bring to the role in her excellent performance of the character? What do we make of Zari’s story over the seasons and how she is written? How does Zari, through her cultural background, story, and personality, represent us as Middle Eastern people? We also discuss the news that we may be getting an Aladdin (2019) sequel, whether we feel excited about it, give our recommendations, and much more!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 9: ‘For Sama’ and the Human Cost of War

This month on The Middle Geeks, we discuss Waad Al-Kateab’s stunning documentary For Sama, which provides visceral insight into the Syrian Civil War and the experiences of citizens under siege. The film has been nominated for numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. In much lighter topics, we discuss the upcoming return of Zari (Tala Ashe) on Legends of Tomorrow, and the news that Iranian and other people of color will be leads in Middle Earth on Amazon Prime’s Lord of the Rings series!

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