A few years ago, a group of novice theatrical artists were introduced to the Egyptian audience by the leading comedian Ashraf Abdel Baky in a number of short plays that were aired on one of the popular TV channels with high viewership rates.
Although such experience that carried the name of “Tiatro Masr” was successful on so many levels, many critics have not found it satisfactory from a theatrical point of view and a lot of audience members considered them to be a silly collection of non-artistic sketches that depend mainly on making fun of a fat woman, of an ugly guy, of a man with a hairdo, or even of popular artists, and reinforcing a number of false stereotypes towards certain groups of people. In spite of the great criticism they encountered, these plays became a new model to be followed by a number of actors who are aiming to achieve such an easy and quick success.
This Ramadan, leading actress Donia Samir Ghanem has fallen into the same trap. In spite of the success she managed to achieve last year with her sister Emy Samir Ghanem in their “Nelly and Sherihan” series, which was considered one of the best comedy TV dramas during the last season, she failed to satisfy the demands of her audience this year. Her new series “Fel La La Land” talks about a number of plane passengers who wake up on an isolated island in Thailand after their plane crashes. Because they come from different social and educational backgrounds, a lot of comedy situations take place.
However, the series was received by waves of criticism and discontent by many social media users who accused it of conveying some misleading messages about women’s body by making jokes about two examples: Hanem, the naïve fat woman who comes from Upper Egypt with her husband, Araby; and Jasmin, the pretty girl who does not think of anything except her outer appearance. The other characters make constant fun of those two characters all the time, treating Hanem as an object because of her obesity, while considering Jasmin a stupid princess because of her beauty.
The series was also accused of presenting people from rural villages and Upper Egypt in an insulting way presenting them as illiterate lunatic people. This appeared in the portrayal of Etab, the chaotic air attendant who used to be a bus hostess, as well as Al Mahs and Dahrog, two other passengers from Upper Egypt who carry funny names and act like aliens.
In her critical review about the series, leading critic Magda Khair Allah explained that Egyptian actors usually have this bad habit of repetition, as they never think of the reasons that led their artistic works to success and tend to believe that they themselves are the main reason behind any success. Therefore, they prefer to present the same characters more than once without thinking of presenting a new topic or identity.
This is not the first time for Donia Samir Ghanem to present the character of a poor uneducated girl, as she has previously presented Lahfa, the simple girl who lives in the slums and dreams of becoming a well-known actress. However, Lahfa was considered better laughter material in Khair Allah’s opinion.