Another year, another Ramadan, another dose of drama.
While food naturally occupies about 75% of our brains during this month, the rest is often split evenly between thoughts of what to do for Eid and the wacky and wonderful mosalsalat that flood our screens. My mother, for one, has a schedule of 12 shows she watches one after the other between the living room and the TV she has conveniently placed in the kitchen. This seems excessive to me, but she still complains about the other dozen or so shows she can’t fit in. I’m sure she’s not the only one and this phenomenon is rather baffling because isn’t Egyptian life one big mosalsal anyway?
We’re only three days into the holy month and my social networks are bursting at the seams with commentary on the soap operas that are synonymous with Ramadan. But, however audacious, outlandish and down-right unbelievable the storylines are, haven’t you noticed how real life drama is often just as ridiculous? I mean, whose dad hasn’t slammed shut a glass cabinet door and paused dramatically? Who hasn’t had a fight over dinner that ends with your mother crying into her shorba? Most of us even still have a tragically tacky salon area in our homes that’s only reserved for guests. My grandma gasps and says “yanhar eswed!” at pretty much everything and let’s face it ladies – whether you’re decked out in Cartier or whatever jewellery designer is cool this week, it still jingles just like Fifi Abdou’s bangles when we’re all worked up.
And that’s just the surface. We Egyptians have a penchant for feuds, we love a good fight and we pretty much live for scandals. Whatever television throws at us, we’ve already been there, done that and told our extended families about it. In the past two years alone, I’ve been shot at, my uncle acquired a second wife, my aunt has been engaged to two different men, my older brother went missing after a night out, my younger brother grew a questionable beard, my mum had an operation, my cousin failed all his exams and my grandmother almost ran away from home. Yanhar eswed! And don’t get me started on my friends. Divorced, depressed, arrested, kicked out, beaten up, robbed, cheated on, pregnant, addicted, dumped, fired…I’ve seen it all. Beat that, Panorama Drama. The only real difference between real life and these soap operas is that we actually tend to be better actors.
So it baffles me that we still turn to Egyptian TV as a source of bemusement when all we need to do is take a look around us. We trick ourselves into thinking that it’s a place to escape to, when in fact it’s a pretty accurate reflection of our big, fat Egyptian lives. You might not be a me3alem but you expect that same special treatment when you walk into your favourite club. You might not be a daddy’s-girl-damsel-in-distress but you’ve acted that way at least twice in the last 24 hours. Your grandma might not say “yanhar eswed!” all the time, but she probably does.
These TV channels have got it all wrong. Millions of pounds are wasted every year on drama and Yosra’s make-up, when they really should be using that money to create something that’ll seriously shock us. Like shows where everything is great and it all ends happily ever after or shows that don’t have Yosra in them.