2022 has been jam-packed with everything from events and discoveries to a host of other noteworthy things in the Middle East. We’ve chosen to give you a rundown of our favorite Egyptian shows that have left a mark across Arab countries. From the ones aired during the Ramadan marathon to the ones aired on streaming services, in no particular order. Ranging from melodramas to musicals, the list covers it all.
Following a decade, everyone’s favorite marriage-obsessed pharmacist, Ola Abdel Sabour (Hend Sabri) returned but this time it was in a whole new light. Not only with the “I Want To Get Married” sequel airing on Netflix but with the character itself getting quite the upgrade. We’re re-introduced to Ola following a divorce where she has to find out who she is as an individual without the title of a ‘Mrs.’ Her search for purpose is met with guest stars in each episode just like the previous season in addition to director Hady El Bagoury cleverly letting the viewer in as part of the family through the breaking of the fourth wall technique. The family show continued to make a splash throughout the year by making Variety’s list of best streaming shows of the year; deservingly so, for its capability of maintaining the powerful character dynamic with the same level of quirkiness.
Betlooh Al Rouh
Egyptian actress, Menna Shalabi took the Ramadan season by storm when her heartwrenching show, “Betlooh Roh” landed on Shahid in the second half of the holy month; making it the talk of every iftar. Directed by the jack-of-all-trades director, Kamla Abu Zekry who two years ago also had everyone talking during Ramadan for the comedy “B 100 Wesh.” Though there’s no laughing in “Betlooh Al Rouh” it takes quite a garden-variety idea and turns on its head. As we follow the character Roh (Menna Shalabi) who owns a restaurant and is happily married to Akram (Mohamed Hatem) and they have a kid; but when one day they decide to take a vacation and her husband and son disappear, things get weird and that’s when the show kicks into full gear when Roh learns that Akram is connected to ISIS and for her to see her child again, she has to join him. Across these 15 episodes, the show truly gets at what it means to be human and the desire intertwined with that. It’s an analysis of humanity than anything politics or religion and that’s what made it special.
The WatchIt original, “Rivo” starring Egyptian band, Cairokee for the first time ever caught the eye of many not only for the band’s unique TV debut but for the project itself. Shifting between the 90s and the 2000s as Mariam (Rakeen Saad) reads her father’s script about a band named Rivo. The more she reads about them, the more she gets sucked in; wanting to know everything about them, just like the person watching. In the form of a musical, the show took its viewers on a wild journey as we learned about these multi-layered characters in addition to having the “Ana Negm” song stuck in our heads. Following the show’s major hit, it was announced that a follow-up season is on its way.
After a five-year hiatus, the “Al Kebeer Awy” family returned to our screen with its sixth season. Starring Ahmed Mekky as obviously Al Kebeer, a mayor of Al-Mazareeta, a small town in upper Egypt as he lives with his new wife Marbouha (Rahma Ahmed Farag), and his twin brother, Johnny. The sitcom throughout the month of Ramadan provided its audience with laughs and the perfect pop culture recap. Whether it was the Egyptian version of “Squid Game” or its own take on the El Gouna Film Festival, the sixth season had something for everyone. Majorly due to the ultimate pairing of Mekky and Farag, on the heels of the sixth season’s success, it was announced that the seventh one was airing in 2023.
Wesh w Dahr
With only 10 episodes, Shahid’s “Wesh w Dahr” had a hold on people’s hearts with the unique duet of Eyad Nassar and Riham Abdel Ghafour. Focusing on Gamal (Nassar) an assistant doctor who always aspired to be a doctor and when life takes a turn, he manages to open up his own practice under a fake name. In need of a nurse, he hires Doha (Abdel Ghafour) who previously worked at a factory and when she gets hired at his practice with no experience and secretly works nights as a belly dancer. Full of dynamic characters and plot twists, the show examines how an individual truly has multiple sides to them and you can never 100% know someone.
Aired during Ramadan, “Ghemam Island” gave the audience something different to talk about for the rest of the year. Blending a unique mix of philosophy, and religion, peppered with fantasy and magic, the show provided a fresh take on a discussion that is often had around Middle Eastern households which is how religious should someone be. From the borderline devil, masterly portrayed by Tarek Lotfy to the moderately religious knows how to strike that perfect balance between faith and nonjudgment played by Ahmed Amin. This show also acted as the perfect comeback for actress Mai Ezz el Dein since her off-season show in 2020, “Khet Hareer.” Not only was her return stronger than ever but viewers saw her in a new, bolder light with a character where she truly broke her usual mold. “Ghemam Island” made a splash in 2022 for its unique backdrop matched with unforgettable characters.
Who killed Salma? The question circulated on social media near the end of 2022. The crime-thriller, “The Killing” adapted from the American show of the same name, follows Salma Abu Deif’s character who wants to travel abroad to pursue her education but things take a turn when it’s revealed that along the process of getting ready to travel, someone has murdered her. Told in a series of flashbacks, Bassel Khayat’s character who is investigating the case is a unique role for him as he played the good guy and as more threads are pulled, viewers get a closer look at Salma’s parents played expertly by Bassem Samra and Reham Abdel Ghafour. It’s clear that this was Abdel Ghafour’s year as she shone in not only “Wesh w Dahr” and “The Killing” with polar opposite characters but she also capped off the year with her unforgettable role in “207” the adaptation of Ahmed Kaled Tawfik’s novel.
Bonus: Family Matter
2022 was full of entertaining shows, but we’re already optimistic that 2023 will bring in even more wholesome and cunning projects for us to devour. We can already taste it with the sequel of the wholesome show “Family Matter” airing its sophomore season just days ago following the hit of its freshman run which aired around this time last year; perfect for the winter cozy vibes.
Let us know which show you’re most excited about in 2023.
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