If you aren’t a fan of Ramadan mosalsalat, this is your guide to surviving the annual onslaught of hackneyed plots, lousy dialogue, and ultra-fast zoom-ins
by et staff
Many people find themselves forced to watch episode after episode of clichés presented through the (now a trademark of Ramadan) mosalsalat (TV series) aired back-to-back-to-back on almost all local and satellite channels. If you’re invited over for iftar at a friend’s or relative’s place, participating in the ritual of mass hypnosis by a TV screen becomes simply unavoidable.
If you are one of those who has been unfortunate enough to have watched a series from beginning to end in the past, you may have noticed that it is sufficient to merely sample one or two episodes of each of the current mosalsalat. This would save you the suffering and, meanwhile, eliminate the chances of being left out of the ‘renowned TV critics get-together’ conversations in which your relatives are inevitably going to engage.
The first few episodes of nearly every series serve primarily as a slow — and often boring — introduction, so you can pick up easily after that. The exception to this may be your occasional history-based or espionage series.
After that, you may decide which to follow, aided by the word on the street. Most of the time, viewers are to a great extent in agreement about which are the top two or three mosalsalat of the season. Don’t give in to pre-Ramadan propaganda about a certain series being the ‘best-written’ (or –produced or –directed or –whatever) in the history of TV. It won’t be. The best are, in fact, the ‘surprise’ hits.
Don’t become addicted: a ‘less is more’ approach may be wise. Remember The Bold and the Beautiful model? You can miss out on a week of episodes and go straight back to watching without feeling that you have missed out on anything at all. Because you haven’t.
Watch out for series that continue after Ramadan: If you know for a fact that you’re leaving for an Eid vacation, for example, you may realize that it would be pointless for you to follow the series and then miss out on five or six episodes as the plot (should it exist) thickens.
Now, what if you’re simply stuck in a mosalsal viewing session you just can’t tolerate? The key to keeping your sanity may be to simply view it as an educational process. Have a go at pointing out the (unsubtle) similarities between the mosalsalat in terms of quirky theme music, ‘man slapping woman’ scenes, ‘woman slapping woman’ scenes, ridiculously close close-up shots, excessive use of traditional Egyptian idioms, misplaced use of English or French, etc. This might, if it doesn’t irritate anyone else, make viewers take it less seriously and actually (gasp!) start a conversation.
And remember to plan ahead: Before the mosalsal starts, try to strike up a good conversation on a current topic or arrange to do something fun, such as playing a game in which everyone can partake. If it’s at your home, try to stall your guests so that they miss the start of an episode, increasing the odds of them skipping that day’s ritual altogether.
It’s always a good idea to find something better to do with your time than be a slave to the drama, performed by players who take their makeup so seriously they look like they’ve just rolled off a Kabuki theater stage.