For many of us, our first exposure to the Arabic language was in the famous TV sitcom, "Algerian Nights." Yes, the show was truly bizarre, and not exactly the most educational viewing for most people. But did any of the characters really blow it, or was it just another case of lazy writing?
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In this new Arabic TV series, a new team of characters join the ranks of the misfits-only Arabic language sitcom. The first episode introduces us to a few new characters, and their struggles to find their place in the world. A newcomer is a bookstore clerk from New York City, Abderrahman el-Bagher. He drops out of class, gets scammed by a girl selling phony passports, gets his identity stolen, and ends up in prison. It sounds like something a hip-hop artist would come up with, but Abderrahman proves that he's much more than a book clerk.
Another new member of the ensemble, an Egyptian called Ahmed, comes from a poor family, brought to work in a Dubai gold mining camp as translators. There, Ahmed becomes obsessed with learning the Arabic dialect. Before long, the others join him in his secret study group and learn the techniques of reciting the bible in both Arabic and Lebanese, along with other techniques. It's a funny drama, mixed with a touch of reality.
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It's the Arabic version of "Dancing With The Stars," which uses music from the hit YouTube video, "Yehoshua bin Harf Al Yashmia." The new characters are mostly from YouTube, so it's not surprising that they use "yo" more than "harrf." The show is very similar to "Seinfeld," as it's a "feudal comedy." The teenagers all live in Egypt, where the family business, the jinn, has taken control of their society, making decisions for everyone.
This new take on Arabic-language TV has a lot going for it. The obvious is that it's targeted to the Arab audience, who have been targeted all over the world with mainstream entertainment. The shows are made by mostly young, male Arabic actors. The writing and acting are subtle enough that the viewer doesn't pick up any subtleties that would make it seem like a mainstream program. The interesting aspect of this development is that it seems to be a sign of things to come, especially with Arabic TV becoming more mainstream.
While it does share certain similarities to the Arabic language Epics like the Bible, it does go in a direction that the modern audience hasn't seen before in Arabic-language programming. The fact that the shows are animated is a huge step forward in the direction of Arabic TV being more mainstream, as cartoons and video games have traditionally been. These are two things that have always had a strong connection with the Arabic language, so it's great to see them finally make it into the American television industry.
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