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‘A milestone’: Social media reacts to Mo Amer’s new Netflix series

As Palestinian comedian Mo Amer’s new show hits Netflix, audiences warm to its realistic depiction of diaspora life
IMDb Mo (TV Series 2022– )
Mo is being hailed as a groundbreaking take on the lives of exiled Palestinians (Screenshot/IMDB)

A long-anticipated new TV show, a vehicle for Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer, has been praised for its highly relatable depiction of life in the diaspora. 

Set in Houston, Texas, Mo portrays the life of Palestinian Mohammed Najjar, or ‘Hamoodi’ as his mother calls him, as he struggles to apply for citizenship and find a stable income after losing his job due to a lack of official papers.

Social media users have praised the integrity with which Amer’s series addresses a range of themes – identity politics, navigating interfaith relationships and trauma – in such a sensitive manner, making the diaspora life highly relatable to those in and beyond the Arab world. There is also a running joke throughout the show about the branding and representation issue of Palestine and Israel. Social media users have welcomed this huge step towards accurate on-screen representation of Palestinian identity and culture, by Palestinians. 


A post shared by Netflix MENA (@netflixmena)

Mo brings together a star-filled cast and crew, to widen the show’s appeal to different generations of the diaspora. 

Syrian actress Farah Bsieso, well known for her roles in Arabic TV dramas, plays Mo's mother, Yusra, who – like most Arab mums – is central in Mo’s life. In one scene in an episode named ‘Yamo’ (mother in Palestinian dialect), which is something of an ode to Arab matriarchs, Yusra is seen pressing olives to make olive oil, set to a Mother's Day celebration song from the iconic Syrian singer and comedian Duraid Lahham (in the guise of one of his characters, Ghawwar el-Toshe). 

The series was co-written by Ramy Youssef, the star of his own biopic Ramy, which features Amer as Ramy's diner-owning cousin.

Positive reactions

A number of public figures and social media users have responded favourably to the series.

Ella Al-Shamahi, a Yemeni-British documentary maker for National Geographic, tweeted: “I’ve just watched the first ep - so happy that a Palestinian American dramady exists… & that it’s goooood… Insane that it’s taken this long… Here’s to our media telling all our stories.”

Syrian-American hip-hop artist and poet Omar Offendum called the show "groundbreaking".

"The Mama/Baba parts hit home for me because people often don't know how hard it is to move through the world with that kind of grief on top of daily American immigrant challenges," he wrote on Twitter. 

Post-release reactions were largely positive, with applause on Instagram and Twitter from the likes of Bella Hadid and rapper Bun B, who co-stars alongside Amer.

moamer Instagram story
Mo Amer reshares Bella Hadid's Instagram tribute (Screenshot/Instagram)

Palestinian-American lawyer and activist Noura Erakat recommended the show on Twitter

"As a kid, the closest thing to positive representation – because Arab terrorists in film continue to abound – was Aladdin, an amalgam character of no region, religion, or language. So watching Mo Amer be a complicated Palestinian on Netflix is a milestone and portal into possible futures." 

Despite being a comedy, the accuracy and relatability of the painful moments of being a Palestinian family in exile were also appreciated by viewers. 

The tale of his parents’ displacement from Palestine to Kuwait, and subsequent escape to Texas during the Gulf War, is one of the true-story plot points in the series. It highlights how much of the turmoil of being exiled is passed on through generations, and remains unprocessed grief and trauma that play into one's everyday life.

From the foods to the music and family dynamics, fans seem impressed with what may be a pioneering show for representation standards on screen. 

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