RummyHulu’s wonderful new comedy series, is a comedian’s point of view show in the artistic vein of Louis Where master of nothing Where Atlanta. It comes from the mind and experiences of Ramy Youssef, a 28-year-old Egyptian-American actor and stand-up from northern New Jersey, who co-created the show with Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch, and produces, writes, stars and directs an episode. He’s not a household name yet – his biggest credit before that was a recurring role on season 3 of Mister Robot — but her show has a confidence and clarity of vision that puts her alongside those authorship accomplishments from name-brand creators. Apart from a stand-alone episode reminiscent of Ramy’s childhood – a format similarly successfully used in the aforementioned shows – Rummy isn’t really like those shows, though. Youssef’s point of view is too distinct. We’ve seen a lot of “am I a good person?” shows, but never quite like this.
Rummy is about a fictionalized version of Youssef who tries to straddle the line of being a devout Muslim who observes Ramadan and prays five times a day and doesn’t drink or do drugs, but who also lives a secular millennial American life of to be driven by George Excitement at Costanza. Like George, sex makes his life very complicated. Unlike George, he’s a thoughtful guy with a spiritual code that makes him feel guilty when he doesn’t do the right thing, and ultimately he has to try to right his wrongs, which only leads to other complications. He lives at home with his immigrant parents Farouk (Amr Waked) and Maysa (Hiam Abbas) and his sister Dena (May Calamawy), all of whom have their own strengths and flaws. It’s a portrayal of an American Muslim family never before seen in a sitcom, because those kinds of characters are never allowed to be this complicated.
“They’re messy, they’re ignorant, they love, they’re kinda racist, they’re…you know – they’re everything everybody in America is,” Youssef said in a recent interview with vanity lounge. “Meeting on our fault lines is much more interesting for me than meeting on common values. I am not trying to sell you anything. On the contrary, I am trying to show you where we are. there’s nothing to hide.” The “fault lines” mentioned by Youssef are what make this show so compelling and funny. It woke up in its portrayal of people rarely seen on TV and in its empathy for all of its characters, and hilarious in the way it chooses to let its characters say ignorant things and do inappropriate things without inviting the audience to condemn them. This may offend some, not because it’s provocative, but because it’s real in a way that will make some people uncomfortable.
What to stream the weekend of April 19
Relatability is not RummyThe main purpose of — its main purpose is to be funny — but you’ll probably end up bonding anyway, if you have parents you like but disagree with, or if you find it difficult to live by the rules of your religion, or if you did anything less than solemn in the aftermath of 9/11, such as visiting young Ramy (Elisha Henig) in a sex chat room in childhood flashback episode. Other standalone episodes follow Dena and Maysa, and the latter in particular is a great showcase for Hiam Abbas and shows the inner life of a middle-aged woman in a way that is almost never shown on television. RummyHis empathy for his characters is enormous.
Rummy does a number of things remarkably well. He provides plenty of laughs, and he also knows when to step aside and go for the emotional (there’s a standout scene with Ramy’s grandfather in the finale). It contains conflicting ideas at the same time (I won’t tell you who makes a special appearance in the flashback episode, but it’s pretty amazing). The acting is excellent across the board, and every role is well done (the show’s biggest laughs tend to come from Ramy’s silly friends, played by Mohammed Amer and David Meherje). It’s a major statement of a talent that will only grow from here.
The ten episodes of Rummy Season 1 premieres Friday, April 19 on Hulu.