Psychological themes dominant in Ramadan TV series indicator of Egyptian society's mood

May Abdallah, Monday 13 Jun 2016

Hassan Khouly, professor of sociology at Ain Shams University, comments on the phenomenon of psychological issues present in many of this year’s Ramadan series

Free Fall
Nelly Karim (Photo: Still from Sokoot Hor)

Many of the television series airing this Ramadan tackle the psychological problems in society.

We can look at many examples starting with the psychological drama Above Reproach (Fouk Mostawa El-Shobohat), where actress Yousra portrays a sociopath who seems to be kind and normal, but in reality is consciously harming the people around her.

Above Reproach is written by Abdalla Hasan and Amin Gamal and tackles an important issue, namely parents’ treatment of their children and its influence on their future lives. 

The series aims at highlighting the fact that all the mistakes committed by the parents to the child during their upbringing becomes the essential ingredients in the formation of his character when he grows up, and thus are the reasons behind the negative impact the child eventually leaves on those around him.

The worse the parents' treatment is of their child, the more the child will grow up and became a man or a woman suffering from psychological issues.

In another series titled Free Fall (Seqoot Hor), scripted by Mariam Naoum and Wael Hamdy, actress Nelly Karim plays the character of Malak, a psychologically troubled woman accused of murdering her own husband and sister after the crime weapon, a gun, is found with her on the crime scene.

When she is arrested, the court decides to put her in a psychiatric clinic, and she is deemed innocent after it is proven that she suffers a psychological illness.

The series A Psychiatric Clinic (El-Khanka) written by Mahmoud Desouky, stars Ghada Abdel Razek who plays the role of a school teacher who is harassed by a student. As the situation escalates, tables are turned on her due to the power of the father of the student who assaulted her.

In addition to harassment being the core issue tackled in the series, the series begins by showing the early life of Abdel Razek and how she has battled with many emotional struggles.

Some of these issues include being prevented from swimming practice by her mother, who tore up her swimsuits, something which led the protagonist to try and fill the psychological gaps she has suffered. As a grown-up woman, Abdel Razek tries to pursue all that she could not do in her childhood. 

Egyptian star Laila Olwy presents another example of a character suffering from psychological issues. In She and Da Vinci (Heya We Da Vinci), written by Mohammed El-Henawi, Olwy’s character has suffered greatly after the loss of her father and remained unconscious and battled a troubled mental state for many years, until she was eventually able to continue her career. 

Hassan El-Khouly, a sociology professor at Ain Shams University, tells Ahram Arabic news website that he sees that the abundance of series tackling psychological issues is an important social indicator if we bear in mind that drama is but an expression and mirror of reality.

Viewers who follow Egyptian television drama surely see how over the past few years television series have come to be more socially oriented and geared towards presenting the struggles of people's daily lives.

"The ideas that turn into material for drama productions are subject to the mood of the author in the first place, and therefore the psychology of the scriptwriter is what should be subject to study. When this psychology is predominant on the scene, then we have to pause, study and interpret,” El Khouly says.

El-Khouly also points out that the general mood of Egyptian society is dominated by tension and instability, and thus people are not in a healthy psychological state. 

“This is something most societies in the world experience after undergoing transitional periods such as revolutions. As a bad mood dominates, it can result in a psychiatric crisis in society due to the quick changes and the rearrangement of society’s value system,” El-Khouly adds.

"When this psychological state becomes a general mood in society, or the majority of people suffer from psychological crises, it is then reflected in drama, either through series or films."

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