Monday June 24, 2019

MTV premieres its reboot of The Hills tonight. “Nina L. Diaz, president of Entertainment for MTV, VH1, CMT & Logo, chatted with The Hollywood Reporter about what fans can expect in the reboot, why Barton and Lee made the perfect addition for the cast and whether Conrad and Cavallari will be making any surprise appearances.”

FX premieres the final season of Legion tonight.

And HBO unveils limited series Years and Years. More on this one below.

Which Big Little Lies mom is right about kids and climate change?

It goes without saying at this point, but Euphoria is a very uncomfortable show to watch. I guess that’s a testament to Sam Levinson et al, but I’m not sure I make it to the end of season 1 of this one.

In the meantime, here’s an interview with Jacob Elordi who plays Nate Jacobs on Euphoria. And more below.

HBO will air the Jerrod Carmichael special Sermon on the Mount on Sunday, June 30.

Roseanne Barr and Andrew Dice Clay announced Sunday that they will be going on tour together.

I finished up and very much enjoyed The Chef Show on Netflix. Give me one “celebrity” chef to watch going forward and I’d take Roy Choi, hands down.

Netflix’s Ted Sarandos weighs in on streaming wars, agency production, big tech breakups, M&A outlook, etc.

CNBC executive Jim Ackerman, who has overseen the business-focused news channel's primetime strategy, is departing the network. Ackerman, executive vp primetime alternative at CNBC, is leaving after seven years in which he was the architect of a revamped nighttime programming block designed to keep viewers watching after the markets close. ‘Jim is leaving CNBC to pursue other opportunities at a yet to be determined date,’ CNBC said in a statement. ‘We thank him for his amazing contributions over the last seven years and wish him the best.’"

Post-POTUS life looks quite fun for Barack and Michelle.

“It’s been 21 years since Jaleel White slipped on Steve Urkel’s signature suspenders. This week, he’ll revive the iconic Family Matters character, by way of Hanna-Barbera. White is set to reprise his career-defining role in an episode of Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, premiering Thursday, June 27 on the Boomerang streaming service. White offered up a first-look photo on social media, which reveals the animated rendering of the Winslows’ next-door neighbor, as well as one of his manyinventions, Urkelbot. ‘Walked in that booth after 20 years and voiced him like it was nuthin,’ White wrote on Instagram. ‘To be on screen with Scoob and Shaggy solving a mystery is #Bucketlist stuff  Enjoy!’”

Viacom has made it official, announcing the fall launch of a new streaming service from BET and Tyler Perry, BET+. Two weeks ago, Deadline reported that the venture was in the offing. The formal press release offered a couple of new details, notably the first original series ticketed for the new platform: First Wives Club, a new 10-episode scripted drama from Girls Trip screenwriter Tracy Oliver. No pricing or exact launch date were announced for BET+.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “[t]he second season of Big Little Lies is about a reclaiming of identity for one of the main characters.

“After the fatal season one finale — where Jane Chapman identified her rapist before he was pushed to his death — the return of the HBO drama opens up months later and Shailene Woodley felt that Jane should look different onscreen. The actress imagined how her Monterey Five character would react after identifying Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgard) as her attacker, and the father to her son, after eight years of not knowing and her input resulted in Jane changing up her hairdo. 

"‘At the end of season one when Perry died, I felt like maybe two or three weeks after that incident she would have woken up one morning, looked at herself in the mirror and thought, “This isn’t who I am anymore. This monster is gone and I’m not going to let him live in me or control me any longer,"‘ Woodley tells The Hollywood Reporter about the backstory of Jane cutting herself bangs, which drew attention on social media after the season premiere. And the physical transformation is just the beginning as her journey as a survivor continues to unfold: ‘It is something that I think is missing in a lot of our storytelling on TV and in movies today — somebody’s path toward reconciliation with themselves and reclaiming of themselves.’

“In the first three episodes of season two, Jane has embraced change with a new job at the Monterey Aquarium and potential romance with a coworker (Douglas Smith). She also spoke her truth about the assault in two powerful scenes. First, with her 10-year-old son Ziggy (Iain Armitage) when he heard through school gossip about his father, resulting in Jane and Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman) making the decision to bring together the half-brothers; and second, with Meryl Streep's character, Perry's mother Mary Louise Wright, who is struggling to reconcile her son's sins.

“Below, in a chat with THR, Woodley discusses the truthful vulnerability that she brought to Jane's story, the ‘messy’ relationships with the rest of the Monterey Five Plus One that are ‘dynamic and deep and chaotic,’ and why Jane's transformation by the end of the season fills her with hope:

How does it feel to be back in full swing with season two and see the audience response?

It’s incredible. People have been asking for so long and it just feels good to have it in the universe and up for grabs by whoever is interested in the season.

As a cast, you have spoken about Big Little Lies being a collaborative process where you give input on each other's characters. What was that experience like and how did you influence Jane’s storyline in season two?

[The storyline] was up to David E. Kelley and his creative genius, but I was very adamant that we explored what a healing journey can look like. There are so many things that we deal with in our show that are relatable, unfortunately, for people. Whether it’s domestic violence, sexual abuse, infidelity, lies, etc. I thought it was really important to show a young woman who had survived rape and who had survived so many atrocities in her life — like being a young mother without very much support from anyone else around her — and yet forging through with a bravery and a courage that has helped give her son a beautiful life. That we provide her a chance to heal. And that we show what one person’s healing journey can look like. Because all of our paths to healing look so incredibly different. It’s important if we’re talking about these subject matters to also talk about how these things might be a part of your story, but they don’t have to define who you are. And that was the case with Jane this year.

Jane’s journey as a rape survivor is unfortunately relatable to many, while also being very specific in this Big Little Lies world. How did that concern for authenticity and that level of care impact what makes it to the screen?

It absolutely makes it richer. This season felt so incredibly important. I grew up with two psychologists who would come home every day, and we would sit around the dinner table and they would tell me horrific stories of what they saw at work while working with kids. Yet I was also very fortunate to hear the survival stories and how people were able to move through specific trauma. It is something that I think is missing in a lot of our storytelling on TV and in movies today — somebody’s path toward reconciliation with themselves and reclaiming of themselves. So it felt important to be as truthful and as honest and as vulnerable [as possible] with Jane this season, because it would be very easy to act the experience of falling in love again, or act the experience of wanting to be sexual again, instead of genuinely feeling that trauma in your body and exploring the mind-body disconnect. Jane’s mind is living in 2019; it’s living in the present and ready to move on, but her body is stuck living eight years ago when she was raped. And her body doesn’t know how to move past that trauma. So trying to find ways to explore that sense of release and reconnection between body and mind with 10 minutes of every episode [laughs] was tricky, but that’s why it felt all the more important to capture the right beat when given the opportunity.

Jane’s new bangs were your idea. What does her season two look represent? 

I’ve been in this position in my life where, after a major breakup, triumph or celebration or after a big change, a lot of people alter the way they look. I know for myself, it’s always been haircuts and piercings. That’s been my way of moving forward in new chapters of my life. I felt that for Jane, she’s carried this weight of not feeling in her own body because of what happened to her for eight years. She felt disconnected from her own identity on not just an emotional and mental level, but on a physical level as well. At the end of season one when Perry (Skarsgard) died, I felt like maybe two or three weeks after that incident she would have woken up one morning, looked at herself in the mirror and thought, “This isn’t who I am anymore. This monster is gone and I’m not going to let him live in me or control me any longer.” In that moment, I feel like she took a pair of scissors and cut her bangs herself. And she went through her closet and gathered up almost everything and took it to the nearest clothing swap store and donated it and got new clothes in order to reestablish and be in control of her identity again. I felt like that would have been her reclaiming her space, even if it was a subconscious decision, because this ghost who has been a part of her identity for so long had then left on the physical level.

Jane has spoken her truth with her son Ziggy (Iain Armitage) and with Meryl Streep’s character, Perry's mom Mary Louise Wright. After all the secrets and lies, why was it important that Jane tell her son the truth about what happened? She almost speaks to him like an adult in the scene.

I think that parents have no idea what they’re doing. [Laughs.] I assume that when I become a parent, I’ll have no idea what I’m doing. You’re just trying to keep your kid alive; you’re trying to keep your kid safe. But at the end of the day, you’re trying to figure out your own life as well and Jane being a young mother, I felt like in that scene she didn’t have the tools or the awareness; she wasn’t equipped with the right aid in order to speak to him as a child. I think she herself went into “I’m just a child” mode. She had to speak to him straight-up because that was the only way she knew to communicate. I think that when shock and adrenaline hits your system, and embarrassment and shame and fear and pain hits your system, you react almost on a one-way street with whatever your natural instincts are. And that was her natural instinct in that moment. She didn’t know how to do anything different.

We don’t see her explaining everything, but she tells him about the assault after he says he heard that she was "salted" by Perry (Skarsgard). What were the conversations like about that scene and how do you imagine that conversation went?

I think when you go into shock you don’t really know exactly what to say or how to say it. It’s almost as if you don’t have a choice but to be incredibly vulnerable. And I think in that moment, she chose to be authentic with her son instead of continuing to lie to him, because she could tell that he’s been seeing through her for so long. Had she had more time to process what she was saying and doing, I think she would have said and done it differently. But I saw that moment as two human beings in the world who are both broken and in pain, and both done with the bullshit and desperately needing connection and needing to not feel alone in their situation. Age went out the window; hierarchy of parent-son, teacher-student, leader-follower — all those roles or labels disappeared and it was just two souls trying to forge their way forward in an incredibly uncomfortable circumstance.

In the sit-down with Streep's Mary Louise, Jane says, "Your son raped me and as he was doing so, I was screaming for him to get off." Mary Louise is also a mother who can’t accept her son’s sins. What was it like to film that conversation with Streep and how does her character bring another layer of complexity?

It’s really easy for us to judge Meryl’s character right off the bat. And it’s easy to not want to empathize with her. But, like you said, all she wants to do is figure out [what happened]. This is her way of coping and her way of dealing through her son’s traumatic death. I really find it fascinating how David wrote her character and then how Meryl chose to portray her. Because no matter how conniving or rude or sketchy Mary Louise can be, she’s always grounded in her form of justice and there’s something to be said for that. Our show explores the themes of not being seen, not being heard and loneliness. Even this group of women who are now “friends,” they’re friends forced by circumstance. They’re not natural friends. Maybe Celeste [Kidman], Jane and Madeline [Witherspoon] are. But all of these women don’t necessarily truly get along or agree with one another. But they love each other based on the experience that they shared. And I think Mary Louise is an extension of that extreme loneliness in a room full of people who feel that constantly. But because of the facade and all the white-picket fences we put around our personalities, pretend like everything is fine when the house is burning down. Mary Louise doesn’t have time for any of that. She cuts through the BS in her pursuit of justice and that’s what feels so abrasive about her, but that’s what also feels very intriguing about her.

Jane and Celeste (Kidman) form a bond and bring their sons together. What is it like to play out those scenes with Nicole Kidman and show the complications that survivors of sexual and/or domestic abuse can face when children are involved?

That was tricky. That’s probably the one thing I wish we had more time in the show to explore. The relationship between Jane and Celeste is so dynamic and deep and chaotic, not only because of the circumstances that Jane and Celeste shared with Perry, but also that they're now sort of raising these boys together. They’re both on their own. They’re both still psychologically dealing with the pain that Perry incurred upon them, and yet they both have to be strong and figure out a way to forge forward in their lives with their children being half-brothers by the extension of rape and infidelity. There’s just so many complex emotions at play. These women I think deep down want to resent one another, but can’t because they genuinely love each other. It’s just messy, like so many of our relationships are. I don’t think any friendship or relationship is black and white. There’s a big gray area in everything and I think for Jane and Celeste, that gray area is dense and thick and it’s also not something either of them are tapping too deeply into, I think out of the fear of what could happen if they open those doors.

Abortion bans are passing in some states, something you have spoken out against. Jane at one point made a decision about her body. Do you hope her storyline resonates?

Honestly, that’s not something I have ever thought about. What people decide to do with their bodies and what women decide to do in certain circumstances have to do with their personal circumstances and you can’t relate that to Jane. There’s no relation there. Every person is an individual and has their own path, and their life experiences and circumstances will define what the best decision is for themselves.

Part of Jane's season-two journey is exploring a romance with Corey (Douglas Smith). She tells him she needs to stay in neutral for a bit. How did you prepare to play out this relationship onscreen?

I can research all day long — and I did do a lot of research, via YouTube videos and articles and a few books that I’ve read — but, for the most part, a lot of the things that I brought to Jane were from personal experiences I’ve had or personal experiences very, very close friends or family members of mine have had. And that’s what helped me form how she was going to move forward with Corey, more so than researching elsewhere. Because it’s such a personal thing and, like I said, everyone’s journeys are so different. I can only pay homage to who I thought Jane was as a person using circumstances that I could personally very closely relate to.

At the end of the third episode, Jane is dancing with Corey and she wipes a tear. Can you fill in what’s going through her head in that moment?

For me, acting is just surrendering to the moment. So it wasn’t about filling it in, it was about feeling what Jane would be feeling in that moment. Which is probably not thinking very much, but simply trying to breathe and survive and get through it, and battle how her mind was telling her one thing but her body was telling her something else. And how she reconciles the two and how she brings them together in order to just simply get through a moment.

How would you describe Jane’s transformation — how do you feel about where her story ends?

The final episode actually changed a lot between reshoots and the time of filming. So I don’t actually know how it ends still. I’m very much an audience member when it comes to season two of Big Little Lies. But I will say that the way Jane’s storyline ends just filled me with a lot of warmth and a lot of hope for the world. And for women and for men who are of any age who are trying to move past trauma in a way that fuels their future with a sense of comfort.”

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From Variety: “With Euphoria, a drama about teens at an American high school, HBO has placed a bet on attracting a young audience that favors Instagram over TV. And the premium cable network’s greatest asset may be a digital-native star who never aspired to be an actress until the role found her.

“As Jules, 20-year-old actress Hunter Schafer plays a part in a complicated Gen-Z story of love in the time of ‘likes’; her character (who, like her, is trans), embarks on a complicated friendship bordering on courtship with new BFF Rue (Zendaya). Jules is a habitué of the everything-on-demand web — which provides opportunities for self-discovery, at times through after-curfew encounters — and is unafraid to stand up for herself or to risk real danger. But there’s a core of unfulfilled romanticism at the character’s heart, a dreaminess that contrasts with Rue’s dour realism.

“In conversation, Schafer is as light and airy as her idealist character. Describing how she ended up auditioning for an HBO drama — after experiencing the first blush of fame as a model for Christian Dior, Helmut Lang and Marc Jacobs, among others — Schafer says, ‘I was just like, “F–k it; why not? Let’s try!” It snowballed from there.’ Her reps suggested she attend the first audition, which Schafer had already seen posted on Instagram; she’d been planning to attend fashion design school. ‘Eventually, I did my final audition out in L.A., and I was filming a pilot a month later.’

“The allure of HBO and Zendaya aside, it’s easy to see why Schafer disrupted her plans. Jules represents a too-rare opportunity — the character grapples with desire but not, in the show’s early going, with gender identity, in which she is secure. Playing a role in which gender was not the struggle was exciting. ‘There need to be more roles where trans people aren’t just dealing with being trans; they’re being trans while dealing with other issues. We’re so much more complex than just one identity.’ Euphoria hasn’t just changed the way Schafer sees her career unfolding: ‘It’s altered the way I think, period. As a trans person I worked really, really, really hard to figure out who I was and solidify that and take hold of it. The idea of having to put that aside and create this new person is scary. But it’s also really exciting to me, continuing to morph and to evolve.’

“Schafer comes by her wisdom about rapid change, and her knowledge of high school, honestly. She’s already experienced a few breakneck years of career evolution, and she was practically just a high schooler (she brought her younger sister to a Euphoria screening recently to verify that the series rang true). Growing up in North Carolina, Schafer was a named plaintiff in the ACLU’s lawsuit with her home state over the ‘bathroom bill,’ which sought to prohibit expansion of protections to LGBTQ people and to govern who could use what public washroom. ‘I was in a place of privilege in my transition and felt like I could handle making myself visible in order to help my state understand why what they were doing was detrimental to my community,’ Schafer says. ‘But I don’t think that makes me an activist.’ As for whether she’s a role model to young teens, Schafer says, ‘I don’t feel prepared or mature enough, but I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next few months of the show airing. It might not really be up to me anymore.’

“Her acting, though, represents a potent sort of advocacy — putting a story not unlike Schafer’s own in front of HBO’s subscribers. She worked with show creator Sam Levinson to ensure that details of the story chimed with her experience. ‘All the complications that come with being trans and queer simultaneously, as far as that being something the public is going to see: That’s really exciting to me, because that story will be accessible. But what’s also exciting is that it’s not about that at all.’ But for all Jules’ story’s particular complications, representation has an elemental power. When she was growing up, Schafer says, ‘the internet saved me — being able to go to YouTube and watch people’s transition timelines, and see myself on a screen.’ Untold numbers more will see themselves, now, in her.”

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Per Deadline, “History has given a green light to The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch (working title), a nonfiction series from Ancient Aliens and The Curse of Oak Island executive producer Kevin Burns.

“Gaining full and unprecedented access to one of the most infamous and secretive hotspots of paranormal and UFO-related activities on earth, The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch will feature a team of scientists and experts who will conduct a thorough search of this infamous 512-acre property located in Utah’s Uinta Basin. They will attempt to find out the truth behind more than 200 years of mysteries — involving everything from UFO sightings and paranormal activities to animal mutilations and Native American legends of a shape-shifting creature known simply as The Skinwalker.

“Beginning in the 1950s, Skinwalker Ranch and the area around it has been referred to as ‘UFO alley,’ where numerous anomalous events and strange activity have received worldwide media attention. Since then, the area has been the site of decades of study, some clandestinely funded by the government. In 1996, the property was purchased by billionaire businessman and UFO enthusiast Robert Bigelow, who used it to conduct his own experiments into the study of the ranch and its other-worldly connections. Three years ago, the property was sold to another, mysterious owner who — for reasons of his own — has, for now, chosen to remain anonymous.

“For the first time, cameras will be allowed onto the property for a television series, according to History, allowing the network to uncover the who, what and why of the secretive area.

The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch is produced for History by Prometheus Entertainment
and Letter 10 Productions. Kevin Burns serves as Executive Producer for Prometheus Entertainment, along with Joe Lessard, Matt Crocco, Kim Sheerin and Anthony Fiorino. Joel Patterson and TJ Allard serve as executive producers for Letter 10 Productions.

“A+E Networks holds worldwide distribution rights.”

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From The Atlantic: “There’s a moment about 15 minutes into the first episode of Years and Years that made me gasp at its audacity, its prescience, its visual horror. The new six-part series from the British writer Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who, A Very English Scandal) charts the life of the Lyons family over the course of 15 years, starting in 2019 and ending in 2034. It’s a kitchen-sink saga that barrels its way through births and marriages and betrayals, but also through the near-future. In 2024, Stephen Lyons (played by Rory Kinnear), a financial adviser, is at home with his wife, Celeste (T’nia Miller), both rushing their way through the morning routine. When the camera turns to their teenage daughter Bethany (Lydia West), her face isn’t recognizably human. Instead, she looks like a 3-D version of a Snapchat puppy, with vast cartoon eyes, wagging pink ears, and a brown snout. When she talks, her voice is grotesquely distorted, a robotic hallucination of a child’s cadence. “I might have to start limiting filter time,” Celeste says in the same exasperated, noncommittal way that you might think, I really should spend less time on Twitter.

“This is the way dystopia happens, Years and Years says: Not with a bang, but with a series of exhausted shrugs. The sight of Bethany’s augmented-reality features—projected over her face by the two thin bands of a headset she tucks behind her ears—isn’t jarring because it’s improbable. It’s alarming because it’s too plausible for comfort.

“Davies, who’s long been a funny, generous chronicler of human foibles and frailty in the present, is also a spookily deft prognosticator, it turns out. And the anxious thrill of watching Years and Years—which debuts on HBO Monday—comes not only from seeing the future unfurl in front of you, but also from watching how it ripples through the lives of this very modern, delightfully fractious family. Sometimes the changes are practical: At the start of the series, the Lyons siblings have to text and call each other to communicate, while a few years later, they’re all connected via an Alexa-like virtual assistant called Signor.

“Sometimes the societal shifts are more treacherous, as when abstract-seeming developments around the world lead to events that put family members in grave danger. It isn’t all bad. When the second episode aired on BBC a month ago, it included a scene in which Rosie Lyons (Ruth Madeley), who has spina bifida, tells her family that medical advances have enabled doctors to repair spinal defects while babies are still in utero. (Just this week, the Cleveland Clinic announced that a team of surgeons had managed to do exactly that for the first time in medical history.)

“Davies interweaves the story of the Lyonses with the political ascendance of a populist leader named Vivienne Rook, played with grim Mancunian relish by Emma Thompson. Though she only directly interacts with the family members a handful of times, Rook (or ‘Viv,’ as she quickly becomes known around the U.K.) is part and parcel of their lives, a symptom and a stoker of discontent across the country. In the first episode, Rook, an entrepreneur, is appearing on a BBC politics show when she launches into a profane tirade about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict overriding issues she insists matter more to British people: parking, litter, trash collection. The audience is electrified. The Lyonses frantically text one another their thoughts while Rook trends nationwide. At the end of her rant, she looks at the camera with a glint in her eye, and says, ‘I have got you listening now, haven’t I?’ Soon enough, she’s running for office.

“As Rook’s political fortunes rise, the Lyonses fall victim to the same circumstances that are leading voters to embrace Rook: financial crises, floods of refugees, a standoff between the U.S. (led by President Donald Trump in his second term) and China. The pace of change is breathtaking. Daniel Lyons (Russell Tovey), who’s married to Ralph (Dino Fetscher), works with Ukrainians seeking political asylum from draconian anti-LGBTQ laws, which draws him into the orbit of the magnetic refugee Viktor (Maxim Baldry). Stephen and Celeste try to come to terms with revelations about Bethany’s identity. Rosie, an early fan of Rook’s, supports her even more fiercely after technological developments phase Rosie out of the workplace. Edith (Jessica Hynes), an activist, returns home after conflict overseas threatens her health. As the show proceeds, characters refer casually to other eventualities: butterflies have disappeared, bananas don’t grow anymore, all teenagers now have mandatory sexual-awareness imaging control classes in school.

“The brittle, nervy feeling of watching Years and Years is amped up by stylistic choices, like the heavy-handed crescendoing score of a children’s choir every time things start falling apart. It also comes from simple recognition. In 2011, when the dark speculative series Black Mirror debuted on Channel 4, its creator, Charlie Brooker, wrote an article for The Guardian about what he most wanted the show to achieve. ‘We routinely do things,’ he wrote, ‘that just five years ago would scarcely have made sense to us.’ Black Mirror, once so prescient that it imagined a buffoonish TV character being elected prime minister, has struggled to stay ahead of a reality evolving faster than Brooker can apparently imagine. Its most recent episodes dealt with scenarios playing out not in some wildly speculative future, but in the present: addictive social-media platforms, holograms, the exploitation of celebrities’ images without their consent.

Years and Years, by contrast, sees the darkest trends of the past decade and takes them to their logical extension five (or 15) years from now. It maps out how easy it is for a politician like Rook to catapult her way into power by appealing to nativist instincts, but also the absurdity of focusing on local grievances rather than catastrophic global crises that threaten everyone. Thompson is brilliantly menacing as Rook, communicating her absolute self-certainty, along with just enough ambiguity to make you wonder if power is everything she’s after. In a world this unpredictable, who can tell?”

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Per TheWrap, “[t]hroughout the first 10 episodes of Hulu’s Ramy, our lead Ramy Hassan’s love life is pulled in two different directions: either he settles down with a Muslim girl at the wishes of his parents, or he goes out-of-the-box and just does what feels right. In the season finale, Hassan somehow manages to do both, locking lips with someone he really connected with in Egypt who’s also Muslim.

“Except– wait — it’s his cousin.

“‘The relationship my character finds in Cairo is definitely an unconventional one,’ Ramy”\ co-creator and star Ramy Youssef tells TheWrap of the finale. ‘It’s going to be really exciting to unravel the complications that Ramy has created for himself in season two.

“Alongside Youssef as a fictional version of himself, the show also stars Amr Waked (Farouk Hassan), Hiam Abbas (Maysa Hassan), Dena Calmawy (Dena Hassan) as his fictional family and Mohammed Amer (Mo), Dave Merheje (Ahmed) and Steve Way (Steve) as his friends. The story of “Ramy” follows the title character as he tries to balance his life in the Muslim and millennial cultures.

“That quest leads Ramy to Egypt, where he meets his cousin Amani (played by Rosaline Elbay). One day, Ramy and Amani go to their grandfather’s funeral, an overwrought moment they both acknowledge later on may be giving them mixed emotions. Ramy’s final decision to kiss her that night is emblematic of his inconsistent decision making, illustrating ‘the pull that happens between what you believe and what you actually do,’ Youssef said.

“‘You could be someone who starts his day with 7 a.m. yoga class. You have a green juice and did it right. But then at 1:00 a.m. in the morning you’re having chicken nuggets and a frosty at the drive thru,’ Youssef said. ‘You get torn by your desires.’

“For those who watch his show, Youssef wants Ramy’s journey to help people who also feel torn by two different sides of their life, to feel less alone.

“‘We really wanted to make something that was introspective so people could see what its like to battle yourself,’ he said.

“Youssef acknowledges that the show and its ending may be controversial to some. Youssef liked a comment he heard that Ramy was “destroying people’s brains” and that no one should watch it because of what happens in finale.

“‘I’m like wow. It destroys your mind but you made it to the end? That’s really exciting. I think that guy will watch season two,’ Youssef said.

“‘For season two, I’m excited to take bigger swings, bigger risks,’ he added.”