Egypt’s New Wholesome Conservative Islamic Comedy Soap Opera Has No Women and Sounds Like a Lame Ripoff of Some Old “Kids in the Hall” Skits

friends (egyptian soap opera style)

Image yanked from Cairoscene.

There’s a new soap opera that will hit the the Islamic satellite channel Al-Hafez during Ramadan (which this year runs from the evening of July 8th through the evening of August 7th) called Cafe Show. The likely reason that it’s premiering during Ramadan is that the show’s creators want to highlight the fact that it’s clean and family-friendly. The show’s director, Wagdy El-Araby, says that “a cleaner and more conservative version of art,” and that “We’re making art and drama without angering God or violating Islamic rules”.

As a result, there are no women on the show, either on-screen or off. The studio workers as well as the actors are all male. El-Araby says that this gender segregation is meant to create a more wholesome kind of art, the kind that stays away from having men and women “mixing”, which he says in discouraged by Islam. “It’s like going to the gym, it’s not ok for women to go and mix with half-naked men,” he says.

Cafe Show will be comedic (both intentionally and unintentionally) and will “revolve around a group of men sitting at a street cafe and discussing social, political and economic issues”. If this sounds familiar, it’s because The Kids in the Hall had a series of sketches that did the exact same thing 20 years ago:

The location of the Kids in the Hall’s “Steps” series of skits was based on a real place: the old Second Cup cafe near the corner of Accordion City’s Church and Wellesley streets in the heart of the gay village, whose steps were a great hangout. I lived only a couple of blocks away from it in the mid-’90s.

Here’s Cairoscene’s take on Cafe Show:

This is a sad day for Egypt which has historically produced strong female performers in the entertainment industry. And to be honest, for a group of people who seem to be homophobic, an all-male TV show about men talking to other men seems quite ironic.

Here’s my take:

hated it

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