Ramy Youssef returns in "Ramy" Season 3. Photo courtesy of Hulu
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Ramy Youssef said the third season of his show, Ramy, premiering Friday on Hulu, deals with the financial landscape of 2022.
"We're really talking a lot about capitalism this season and where the family's finances are at," Youssef told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "That kind of vulnerability around money is very real right now, especially after the last few years."
Youssef created the show, which premiered in 2019. He plays Ramy Hassan, the son of Egyptian immigrants who struggles to find his place within his family, the Muslim religion and modern American life in New Jersey.
In the show, Ramy's father Farouk (Amr Waked) has been unemployed for some time. Farouk dreams of launching his own business selling ad space on containers, but cannot find investors to back him.
"What Farouk is going through to me is very emblematic of the realities of the American dream," Youssef said. "It's just that what he was pursuing is no longer a reality, and I don't think that it is for a lot of people."
Ramy dramatizes Farouk's struggle with an Egyptian Shark Tank spoof. Farouk pitches the sharks, who shoot down his dream.
"That show is like a 30 minute version of the American dream," Youssef said. "You can go from nothing to everything which is kind of what people hope for when they come here."
Besides business dreams, Youssef feels the economy has evolved into something unsustainable since people of Farouk's generation have immigrated to the United States.
"The way that money is exchanged, the way that systems work, the cost of living -- all of those things have, for a lot of people, become an impossibility," Youssef said. "People have been under credit card debt and bad investments and stock market crashes and all of that stuff."
In the show, Youssef's character travels to Israel for a business opportunity. Ramy filmed an episode in Jerusalem.
In Israel, Youssef's character experiences the divide between the Israeli and Palestinians. Rather than take a stand on the political issue, Youssef said his goal was to portray his character as inappropriate for the two sides.
"Pretty much both sides would be bothered by what this guy said or did," Youssef said. "The show asks of Israel and asks of Palestine, "What does it take to draw these lines and what is the human cost of doing that?'"
Dena Hassan (May Calamawy), Farouk's daughter, also experiences the downside of her career dream in Season 3. Dena is attending law school and studying for her bar exam, but witnesses some harsh realities of the justice system in her legal internship.
"Her religion is basically law," Calamawy said. "It's become her identity in a way, and she now is questioning everything."
Dena meets a potential client whom she hopes the firm can help. The firm's reaction to that client makes Dena question her career choice.
"You see her as more of a fighter in Season 1, more outspoken and opinionated," Calamawy said. "Season 3 is her realizing she might not be OK."
Along with career and financial stories, Ramy also deals with dating. Bela Hadid guest stars as the girlfriend of Ramy's friend, Steve (Steve Way).
Youssef''s character finds himself the third wheel between Steve and his date, who compares everything to an episode of The Office. Youssef's character has not seen The Office, and Youssef himself admits he only discovered the show after his friends.
"There are some relationships that are just built on watching The Office," Youssef said. "Any couple could get through anything if they had The Office."
Season 2 of Ramy also explored Uncle Naseem's (Laith Nakli) love life. Naseem reluctantly began exploring relationships with other men, but reacted violently when it came time to kiss.
Nakli said Season 3 will further explore Naseem's inner conflict.
"The main antagonist is himself, his inner turmoil," Nakli said. "It gets really, really bad but there is a glimmer of hope."
Nakli said Naseem makes excuses for his inability to reconcile his feelings. Naseem blames a demon for his negative behavior.
"He believes that he's being controlled by something else, some outer force," Nakli said. "Until he finds peace with himself, that's the journey that he's going to go on. I hope one day, he finds peace with himself because that will be a nice ending for him."
All 10 episodes of Ramy Season 3 are available Friday.