“Ramy,” Hulu’s new comedy from Ramy Youssef, is one of the best new shows of the year, currently standing at a 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and at 87 on Metacritic. In the comedian auteur vein of “Louie,” “Master of None” or “Atlanta,” the series, which released all 10 episodes of its first season on Friday, follows Ramy Hassan (Youssef), an Egyptian-American slacker navigating life as a millennial and also as a devout Muslim. It puts a spotlight on a group of people who rarely get it, but Youssef, who co-created, executive-produces, stars in and directed the show, hopes its message goes deeper than just breaking ground with an American Muslim lead.
“If there’s one thing that I want people to take away about Muslims from watching this show, it’s that we have the same problems that you do,” he says in an exclusive featurette (watch above). “In Hollywood, so many of the things that come out are trying to portray us as perfect or trying to go against this public bashing that’s happening. And I don’t think this show is really interested in doing that as much as it is being like, ‘Hey, we struggle with the same values, with the same desires, with the same problems.'”
Indeed, “Ramy” does not attempt to show Ramy, much less his family, as practically perfect in every way in its “Muslims: They’re just like us” relatability. Rather, its relatability stems from an empathetic, heartfelt portrait of a young man and a Muslim family that’s sometimes messy, wildly inappropriate and not as PC as you might have been led to believe. It’s a little uncomfortable, but only because those interactions feel achingly realistic (everyone has a racist uncle, you know?). It’s not intended to be everyone’s Muslim’s experience; it’s just Ramy’s.
“I think one of my favorite things about the show is how dark we’re able to go while still keeping what’s funny about the situation,” Youssef says, highlighting the excellent fourth episode, “Strawberries,” a flashback installment following a pre-teen Ramy’s (Elisha Henig) misdaventures in a sex chatroom. We then learn that — spoiler alert! — this is all happening during 9/11. “[9/11 is] a really hard thing to talk about,” Youssef continues. “And going into it, trying to treat it with the respect that it deserves and showing not what’s funny about what happened, but what’s funny about the fact that we had to deal with that.”
By the end of the reason, Ramy visits Egypt, in one of those classic “going back to your roots” episodes, adding more weight to the show’s dark humor as Ramy seeks answers to questions he may never get. “Sometimes you kind of have this idea of, you know what, if I went back there, everything would make sense. And it doesn’t,” Youssef says. “The tension here is what we’re all going through. It’s a moral one and it’s set with a group of people that you probably don’t know that much about. You’ll get to watch it and see things that feel familiar to you next to things that you have no idea about.”
While Hulu has “The Handmaid’s Tale” waving the flag in drama, becoming the first streaming service to win a series prize in drama or comedy at the Emmys with “Handmaid’s” victory in 2017, it has yet to make a serious dent on the comedy side, but “Ramy” is its best chance yet. The show has the acclaim, has premiered at the perfect time, and there are a couple of open slots for the taking.
In the near future, you can check out how our experts rank this year’s Emmy contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own 2019 Emmy predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on July 16.