AlRawabi School for Girls
I had absolutely no clue about this show. I mean, I hadn’t seen any Arabic-language web series before this. But when Netflix threw it on the home page as it has been trending in this part of the world, I was intrigued and looked up the trailer. I immediately Googled and found out that its based in Jordan. My curiosity was highly piqued and then I just had to binge-watch it!
A six-episode limited series it is, that reworks ‘Get Even’ and follows a group of outcast high-school girls as they plan revenge on their school’s equivalent of the ‘Mean Girls’. They turn everyone’s lives around in unexpected ways as part of their goal to conduct takedowns. The show manages to tell a compelling and thrilling contemporary tale that also provides important and timely commentary on bullying, women’s rights, psychology, religion, and relationships. That may sound like a lot, but for many young teens at school, these are just some of the everyday issues they silently battle all at once, often with little appropriate support.
The story is well developed with a meaningful plot, making me live within it and feel it while watching the episodes. Even though I watched it dubbed in English, some of the dialogues stayed with me. The entire story was relatable, and nothing seemed off or fake. I somehow felt myself to be a part of that school and that’s where the show scores, sweeping the viewer along with the narrative. The stellar performances by the talented cast add to the charm, none of them felt like actors rather like real people in the real world! Maybe I feel this way because I don’t know them, however that absolutely doesn’t take away from the brilliance of the performances. Each character in the show is unique in their upbringing, socio-economic status, and religiosity, yet many encounter the same underlying issues, albeit in different forms.
The haunting background music and melodious soundtracks need to be mentioned here. Also, the AlRawabi School for Girls Anthem portrayed the ethnicity and strict mood of the prestigious school perfectly. The school looked exactly like a girls’ school, which made the setting more realistic. Viewers will also love seeing the beautiful city of Amman, through the professional eyes of the show.
The idea of having a series directed at girls and made entirely by women is empowering for every female watching it, which is badly needed in the Middle East. (Tima Shomali and Shirin Kamal collaborated to create this incredible series, and Tima Shomali directed it too.) Bullying has gotten worse in the 2020s, where people have the ability to torture their classmates outside school via social media. And if you think this is a phenomenon that’s not universal, think again. This teen series lets the global audience know that bullying — and its consequences — is pretty much the same no matter where you go. Getting good grades, wanting to fit in, falling in love, dealing with bullies etc., are things that all teenagers will encounter at some point in their adolescent lives. The series delves into the micro aggressions, toxic masculinity, and societal expectations young women encounter in their communities in a way that is relatable for women worldwide. This is executed in a number of creative, nuanced ways that are not overly obnoxious and is largely achieved thanks to the writers’ focus on character diversity. I was left completely lost as to what was right and what was wrong. I wanted justice, but I had no idea what justice was!
Coming to the ending…it was somber, scary and indeed bizarre for me, and I was distracted and lost after I finished it. I was questioning which side I should take. A different climax could have worked far better! One more thing that I’d like to add, not all girls’ schools are like this and neither are all women this horrible to each other. People who are like this need a serious amount of therapy to get over whatever problems they have. So, take that for what you will.
Overall, Netflix’s latest Arabic original series is a masterpiece that gives us the space to talk about more topics freely and opens the way for others to create such good quality content in the Middle East. Cheers to the whole cast and crew on this stellar piece of work. AlRawabi School for Girls is engaging as hell. It just keeps on a steady and blazing pace and just gets better. My call: STREAM IT!
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.