Shows and Movies with Arab American Representation to Watch All Year

Shows and Movies with Arab American Representation to Watch All Year

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Arab American Heritage Month, the five-year-old national initiative to celebrate Americans of Arab descent, started April 1 and lasts the whole month. While still a new tradition, the existence of this month brings forth a modest but exciting outburst of Arab representation in film and television.

For decades, Arabs have scarcely been portrayed in a positive light in Western media; they’ve been shown committing acts of terror or being greedy barbarians. In recent years, however, Arab Americans have been able to get behind the camera and tell their own stories. Ramy Youssef’s Hulu Original series “Ramy” has been nominated for two Emmys, while comedian Mo Amer has had a Netflix special and is set to star in DC Comics’ “Black Adam” in October. 

Although there is progress, there’s no denying we have a long way to go. When I asked people for their favorite Arab American show or movie, many couldn’t even come up with an answer. Arab American media is widely undermade and underseen, but there is an audience waiting to find existing titles and support upcoming ones and wanting to see representation. Here’s where to start:

“A gay Arab American Muslim rom-com. The first of its kind, it was delightful and really warmed my heart! Its existence makes queer people in our community feel seen, and for that I’m beyond grateful. Sure it’s a little corny, but what fun rom-com isn’t?” —Nia Mohamed, Moroccan, Buffalo, New York

Available to watch on Hulu

“In ‘Bittersweet,’ Ahmed Helmy brings forth a humorous look at the life of an Egyptian American returning to Egypt after 20 years. This 2010 Egyptian production is an interesting mix of comedy and drama that explores diaspora, home, and belonging.” —Ahmed AbdulMageed, Egyptian-Palestinian, currently in Amsterdam

Available to watch on Netflix.

Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf

“A relatable story of teenage angst in rebellion, with the added hurdle of being a first-generation Arab-American girl.” —Yasmina Tawil, Lebanese-Syrian, Brooklyn, New York

Available to watch on Netflix.

“I picked ‘Ramy’ because of how relatable it was. The main character is conflicted with his Arab Muslim background and also having been born and raised in the U.S. I think this struggle to balance two identities is depicted honestly within this show and it’s definitely worth the watch.” —Mariam Al-Yakoob, Kuwaiti, West Lafayette, Indiana

Available to watch on Hulu.

“What originally stuck with me was the filmmaking style. It reminded me of a project I tried to make once about Lebanon full of slow, quiet shots of pieces of life. But what really stuck with me, and reflects Arab-American life, is that it explores the concepts of belonging and home. Many Arab-Americans are immigrants or first generation and the concept of their identity and where they belong is very complicated. They often feel like strangers in either of their homelands. Even when someone is not new to the U.S., because we are often othered, it can still be confusing about where you belong.” —Yasmina Tawil, Lebanese-Syrian, Brooklyn, New York

Available to watch on Amazon Prime.

“Cherien Dabis’s ‘Amreeka’ isn’t available to stream or purchase anywhere right now, which is unfortunate since it would’ve been perfect for this list! Instead I’ll recommend her other film, ‘May in the Summer’. It’s a sweet comedy about a newly engaged New York author who returns home to Jordan, where she’s faced with her dysfunctional family.” —Noor Abadi, Sacramento, California

Available to watch on Amazon Prime.

“I recently discovered the British sitcom ‘We Are Lady Parts’, and I love its funny and realistic take on life as a first generation immigrant in the Western world. The show follows an all girl Punk Rock band and is a really honest representation of the joys and struggles of Muslim women torn between cultures and expectations. I’m inspired by the resiliency of the characters and find empathy and humor with the protagonist Amina’s issues with extreme anxiety that cause ‘spontaneous vomiting and diarrhea.’ It’s important to see how similar our experiences are across the diaspora as Arab and Muslim women and I love any show that can make me really laugh.” —Deena Ramadan, Egyptian, Richmond, Virginia

Available to watch on Peacock.

“’Detroit Unleaded’ follows main character Sami as he takes over the family gas station after his immigrant father passes away, and how that responsibility clashes with his personal life when he falls in love with Najlah. The director is native to Detroit, and went out of her way to cast from and film in Detroit, so it’s very authentically Arab American.” —M. Ibrahem, Sudanese, North Carolina

Available to watch on IMDb TV and Tubi TV.

Eman Ibrahim

Contributor

Eman Ibrahim is a university student studying Animation & Film. She is currently social media manager and blog contributor at the Arab Film & Media Institute.

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8 Movies to Watch on Valentine’s Day If You’re Over the Romance

8 Movies to Watch on Valentine’s Day If You’re Over the Romance

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Movies focused on sappy love stories and sweeping romance are typically recommended for Valentine’s Day. And if you’re totally over those recs, you’ve come to the right place.

Maybe you’re looking to spend time watching a movie that puts friendship first, or reminds you to love yourself or, even better, to love your Italian villa. Regardless of the reason, there are plenty of options out there that don’t make finding your soul mate the main focus.

Here are eight movies that will skip the lovey-dovey nonsense and get right to the laughs, great friendships, non-stop action, and/or Jamie Dornan doing jump splits on a beach. 

Who needs a significant other when you have your best girlfriends with you? This 2017 comedy with a powerhouse main cast — Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, and Regina Hall — is about a group of college friends reconnecting over a wild trip to New Orleans. It’s funny and heartwarming and outrageous all at once, and it’s a great way to spend an evening with your best gals.

Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever star in this high school buddy comedy about best friends Molly (Feldstein) and Amy (Dever), who feel like they haven’t had enough fun in high school. So, ahead of their graduation, they vow to have a night of some real high school partying. Their dreams come true — and then some. When it comes to all of the shenanigans Molly and Amy get into (prepare yourself for any time Billie Lourd shows up), it’s their friendship that gets them through it. The chemistry between Feldstein and Dever is the star of the show, and you might find yourself ending the night by purchasing some matching jumpsuits for you and your best bud.

Is it thought of being transported back to when you were thirteen terrifying? Yes, definitely, horrific. Thankfully, actress Elsie Fisher does it so everyone else doesn’t have to. In Bo Burnham’s “Eight Grade,” Fisher gives an unbelievably winning performance as Kayla, an eighth grader riddled with anxiety who is just trying to figure out who she is. It will bring you back to that uncertain, insecurity-ridden time in your life in all the best and worst ways.

Available to watch on Hulu

Yes, there is some Italian romance in this 2003 movie starring Diane Lane, but it’s mostly about a woman picking herself up after getting knocked down. Frances, played by Lane, is a newly (and very acrimoniously) divorced writer who ends up falling in love with a new life she builds for herself, which starts with purchasing a rundown villa in Tuscany. It’s the perfect little escape of a movie and features a fun supporting cast, including Sandra Oh as Frances’s best friend Patti.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar 

It’s weird and insane and hilarious and Jamie Dornan sings a song to seagulls in which he’s twirling on the beach. If you’re into the sound of all that, you’ll get such a treat: Starring Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo, who also co-wrote the screenplay, this film is about two best friends from Nebraska who decide to pack up their culottes and leave their hometown for the first time on a vacation to Florida. They have an adventure so wild and so silly that it doesn’t do the movie justice to attempt to describe it in a short blurb. Just do yourself a favor and put on “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” right now. You won’t regret it.

Available to watch on Hulu

It’s about women coming together and getting paid. “Hustlers” stars Constance Wu as Destiny, a single mom and stripper who ends up under the tutelage of Romona Vega (Jennifer Lopez), a veteran of the trade, and the two form a close friendship between themselves and other strippers as they build a lucrative business hustling their male clients out of money. Eventually, everything blows up, but getting there is a fun and surprisingly emotional ride. Jennifer Lopez’s performance is worth the watch alone.

Available to watch on Hulu

Put on your best white suit and do some vocal exercises so that you’re prepared to belt out “You Don’t Own Me” along with Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, and Goldie Hawn in triumphant fashion at the end of this 1996 comedy. Keaton, Midler, and Hawn star as best friends from college who lost touch and are thrown back together when the fourth in their group, played by Stockhard Channing, dies. The women realize they’ve all been mistreated by their ex-husbands who left them for younger women and decide to band together to get revenge. 

If you’re in the mood for a great action movie with a side of friendship, watch “Set It Off.” This 1996 heist drama is about four women — played by Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, and Kimberly Elise — all in need of money, who decide to rob a bank or two. It’s fast-paced and action-packed with a lot of emotion, thanks to the performances and chemistry between the main cast.

This Popcorn Maker Has More Than 15,000 5-Star Amazon Reviews (and Readers Get an Exclusive Discount)

This Popcorn Maker Has More Than 15,000 5-Star Amazon Reviews (and Readers Get an Exclusive Discount)

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Anyone obsessed with popcorn knows that microwavable bags aren’t always the way to go. Popping your own kernels allows you to make as much as you want and season it according to your preferences, whether that’s light salt, tons of butter, sweet — the list goes on. To avoid making a mess by popping popcorn on your stove (not to mention potentially scorching your cookware like I once did to my mom’s 20-year-old saucepan…), there’s a handy gadget that we think you need to check out: the Hotpop Microwave Popcorn Popper

With over 15,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, this silicone popcorn maker is the ultimate movie night tool. And as an added bonus, you can get your own as part of a special sale exclusive to Kitchn that’s taking place now through Jan. 23. Just use the code 15HOTPOPJAN at checkout to take 15 percent off. The discount only applies to four colors, Transparent Purple, Dark Orchid, Black, and Cherry, which you’ll be directed to when you click below.

There are a few things that make this Hotpop stand out from other popcorn makers. Unlike hot air popcorn makers, this is an all-in-one popper so it also doubles as a serving bowl. You can easily clean it when you’re done, rather than cleaning out your appliance and then washing the serving bowl. And although there are glass microwave poppers that we like, the heat-resistant BPA-free silicone of the Hotpop means that you don’t have to worry about it breaking. Plus, it collapses down to just two inches tall when you’re done so it’s easy to store just about anywhere.

To use the Hotpop, all you have to do is add kernels to the bowl, plus your favorite seasonings, and then stick it in the microwave. It’s said to make up to 15 cups of popcorn but can also take as little as 1 tablespoon of kernels if you’re looking for a personal snack. Tons of reviewers have also commented on how few unpopped kernels they were left with when compared to microwaveable bags.

“I had been using about a half cup of popcorn on my stovetop, but using a third of a cup in the Hotpop gave me a full bowl of popcorn. There were 10 unpopped kernels, but what really impressed me was that all of the popped corn was fluffy,” one reviewer wrote. And even if you’re left with unpopped kernels, you can go ahead and reheat those!

There are a few things that make this Hotpop stand out from other popcorn makers. Unlike hot air popcorn makers, this is an all-in-one popper so it also doubles as a serving bowl. You can easily clean it when you’re done, rather than cleaning out your appliance and then washing the serving bowl. And although there are glass microwave poppers that we like, the heat-resistant BPA-free silicone of the Hotpop means that you don’t have to worry about it breaking. Plus, it collapses down to just two inches tall when you’re done so it’s easy to store just about anywhere.

“I cannot believe how easy it was to make perfect popcorn and use the same bowl to eat out of. I have let all my friends know about this! Buy it!” another customer said, adding that they’re throwing out their old popcorn maker.

Several reviewers also raved about how easy this gadget is to clean and store, especially when compared to bulkier popcorn makers. “Cleaning is a snap: swish the sides and lid with warm, soapy water, turn upside down in the drain to air dry, snap down to closed position and back in the cabinet it goes. I didn’t have to find cabinet space since I put it on top of the baking sheets,” one person commented.

While a microwavable popcorn maker might not seem totally necessary, it’ll be one of those gadgets that you’ll ask yourself how you lived so long without it. Skip the long ingredient list on microwavable bags and pop your own kernels with this super easy-to-use Hotpop Microwave Popcorn Popper. You’ll thank us during your next movie night!

7 Apartment Therapy Editors Share Their Favorite New TV Shows and Movies That Came Out In 2021

7 Apartment Therapy Editors Share Their Favorite New TV Shows and Movies That Came Out In 2021

Nicoletta Richardson

Entertainment Editor

In her spare time, Nicoletta loves marathoning the latest Netflix show, doing at-home workouts, and nurturing her plant babies. Her work has appeared in Women’s Health, AFAR, Tasting Table, and Travel + Leisure, among others. A graduate from Fairfield University, Nicoletta majored in English and minored in Art History and Anthropology, and she not-so-secretly dreams of exploring her family lineage in Greece one day.

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