News Trending Viral Worldwide

‘Ramy’ Stays Strong By The Power Of Its Ensemble In Season 3

Whew, it’s been too long since Ramy Yousef graced us with a season of his Hulu dramedy (produced by A24), Ramy. Yet the series (and its exploration of Muslim-American identity) is finally back for a third round of being the best show that you’re not currently watching. Heck, even Ramy Yousef believes that you’re not watching this show. Back in early 2020, the second-season awards tour saw Ramy merrily joke (while accepting the Best Actor In A TV Comedy award at the Globes), “You guys haven’t seen my show.” He then kept things lively during the Emmys by showing what it looks like to lose during a virtual awards show. And now, Ramy the character lets everyone know what it feels like to have lost in life.

That sounds ominous and like we’re getting Dark Ramy, but don’t worry. Ramy, as an exploration of Muslim-American life, is still as sharply funny as ever while dealing out comeuppance to the leading man. The well-meaning dude of an endless existential journey faltered. He lost his way before he found it, and he did indefensible things. He hurt those who trusted him, including Mahershala Ali’s sheikh character. He betrayed his new wife (Zainab), who happened to be the sheikh’s daughter. He thoughtlessly vouched for a PTSD-afflicted vet (obviously a loose cannon), who ended up killing someone, all of which led the sheikh to unload the full weight of his disgust.

“F*ck you, Ramy,” declared the voice coming out of a very scary Mahershala Ali during the Season 2 finale. “You little f*ckin’ boy. You hurt people! Is that how I have to talk to you to get you to understand?” And the kicker: “You’re dangerous.”

It’s hard to come back from that with a bounce in your step. I’d probably just die right there on the spot, you know? And Ramy doesn’t skip the Cleanup On Aisle F*ck Up. There’s no easy path to redemption after an endearing character lacked judgment and unleashed a truckload of collateral damage. So, that’s where Ramy returns, and his life is a shambles. He’s in debt with the failed marriage hanging over his head, and that leads him into the diamond business. And as Ramy’s toiling away and coming to terms with his surprising awfulness, the show largely chooses to focus upon the shenanigans of the other characters who we’ve already grown to enjoy: Ramy’s family and friends.

Fortunately, the show already laid a fine foundation for these “sidelined” characters, so the story’s reliance upon them doesn’t feel like a stretch. And through them, the show further explores Muslim-American identity from their perspectives. Ramy’s sister (Dena) is struggling to put a foot forward in her career while pushing back against the community’s expectations. Uncle Naseem is still a problematic jackass, and an assortment of diamond-industry professionals keeps things interesting. Ramy’s parents and friends are back, and that latter group now includes Bella Hadid’s character. Yes, a supermodel is on Ramy, and she’s not playing anyone that you’re expecting to see. I’ll leave it at that. There wasn’t enough of Bella, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her, either on this show or elsewhere. She fit right into this strange little ensemble.

Actually, the ensemble is where it’s at in Season 3 (more than any other season) of Ramy. At times, he does even feel like a guest, but that’s alright. He’s rudderless after losing his spiritual advisor and realizing that his path to enlightenment may have been paved by good intentions (outwardly, at least, because he was really trying to impress the sheikh), but he still really hurt people. This ain’t Seinfeld, where loathsome behavior doesn’t carry a consequence. Let’s face it — Ramy ain’t a show about nothing, either. So, he must walk the walk before naval gazing, and he needs to learn to not leave people in a worse state than he originally found them. Ramy doesn’t spend as much time trying to follow a spiritual path this season, but ironically, the act of him making amends is more spiritual than anything we’ve seen him do.

There’s some serious character growth happening, but the show keeps things so light that it never feels like a chore to watch. For example, Ramy takes a trip to Israel (related to diamond stuff), and it’s a much different voyage than the one he previously took to Egypt, where he threw himself into a trauma-tourism joyride. And I can’t say that Ramy totally ends the season in a fully self-aware way, but there’s progress on display. Meanwhile, we get to see Ramy’s parents take on a new, uh, business venture, Dena deals with her own garbage, and occasionally, a Ramy love interest wafts through the air before realizing that she had better get the hell out of dodge.

That brings me to an interesting point, which is that the women of Ramy do not settle for being drawn under the male gaze. Dena’s got her own issues but is making her own way while refusing to sit down and be a “normal” Muslim-American woman. And the show doesn’t shy away from batting around the stereotypical Muslim-American male fantasy of having more than one wife. As if that’s not enough, Ramy’s mom has had it up to here with running the whole joint and taking care of everyone. So much is happening, and if Ramy was up to full speed himself, there might not be room for all these side stories.

Ultimately, thank god that Ramy, the character, screwed up. He couldn’t stay lovable forever. Instead, he’s busy hustling, which is a good way to keep this show from going stale. And it makes sense because after everything that Ramy did, it would feel disingenuous to see him indulging in soul-searching, at least right away. Rather, this very flawed leading man must earn the right to attempt self-actualization again, and maybe he’ll make real progress with some people that he hurt. By the end of the season, he does earn the right to get introspective, and he finds a new challenge. Ramy is back, and yes, he screwed up, but he’s here to make it up to you. Watch him.

The third season of Hulu’s ‘Ramy’ debuts on September 30.