Ramy Youssef Rejects Idea of Portraying an ‘Average Muslim Family’

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jun 11, 2019

Actor and comedian Ramy Youssef (“Mr. Robot”) is the star and creator of Hulu series “Ramy,” which is loosely based on his life and focuses on the son of Egyptian immigrants who is pulled between his Islamic culture and life as a millenial in New Jersey. In an interview with Deadline published Monday (June 10), Youssef makes it clear that his show is not about first-generation, fitting-in issues, but about how to honor the sum of all your parts.

With episode titles like, “Do the Ramadan,” “Cairo Cowboy” and “Refugee,” Youssef allows space for his characters to be introspective and to figure it out, making it clear that they don’t already have all of the answers. He emphasizes that no two Muslims are alike and people should stop thinking of them as a monolith.

“No one has ever been asked to make the Christian show that really represents all Christians,” Youssef said, because that requires nuance and asking lots of questions. For example, what kind of Christians would the characters be and where would they live? “But for some reason, the term ‘average Muslim family’ flies,” Youssef said. What people are really trying to say, Youssef believes, is “not ISIS.”

Emphasizing just how specific “Ramy” is, Youssef said there may be moments of the show that some Muslims won’t connect with. “I think that Arab Muslims who watch this show feel very seen. But then Muslims who are Black, which is most of the Muslims in America, Muslims who are any of the various groups, they might only relate to certain things,” Youssef said. “They might watch it and go, ‘What’s going on here? This isn’t me.’”  

Read the full interview here.