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Kamel El Adad + 1 Bringing Smiles Into Our Homes This Ramadan

posted on: Apr 3, 2024

By: Malak Hassouna / Arab America Contributing Writer 

Last Ramadan, we were introduced to Kamel El Adad, where Ahmed (Sherif Salama) and Layla (Dina Elsherbiny) meet and decide to get married, creating a wonderfully chaotic family of nine. There were seven kids originally in season one. In season two, we add one to the mix, a year after Omar’s (Layla’s ex’s husband portrayed by Mostafa Darwish) unexpected death in real life. Ahmed, Layla, and their family (+1) face new problems unlike any they’ve endured before. The series provided drama and comedy genres that were very needed, bringing something to our screens that had never been done before. 

The series taught us that family comes first and that being one family does not always imply sharing genetic links since chosen family bonds can be far more robust and profound. We saw how Ahmed and Layla’s love overcame all hurdles and hardships. The devoted cast was eager to pay respect to the late Mostafa Darwish for the second time, expressing how much they genuinely miss him. The series chronicled their issues and difficulties after marriage while raising their eight children. Not only that, but with a big cast, it seemed like everyone’s storyline was fully developed, and no one was left behind, from baby Omar to Badra. 

They have tackled more issues this season than in previous seasons, from drinking to infidelity to family loyalty to teen drama and sibling rivalry. It is rare to see how a TV show in the Middle East tackles such issues with such poise, while usually, teen mischief is funny and made into a comedy. Kamel El Adad dove deep into issues that their teens had, including mental health, the effects of social media, etc… 

Starting with Amina, the TikTok crazed teen. While we have seen teenagers be rule-breakers and keep things from their families in Western media, the portrayal has never transferred to Eastern media quite the way it has with Amina. Her character development, loving her family, being involved in a legal case due to a stranger online, and the dangers social media can do to you when you keep secrets from your family were evident in the series. Additionally, the conclusion of how her character wrapped up to not craving the spotlight anymore, standing up to her biological father, and fully adopting her stepfather as her father. The episode where she tells her biological father that he’s not a father figure in her life and that Ahmed is one of the show’s most emotional scenes. 

 Going on to Sherif’s development, while I feel like he wasn’t very accepting of his mother’s new marriage in the previous season, and that was made abundantly clear he didn’t get much of a storyline in season 1.

However, in season two he receives a whole storyline for him to develop from soccer to accepting his new family and dealing with injury. It has always been a sense of taboo to talk about underage drinking or drinking in general in Middle Eastern media. It was incredible to see the light being shed on bad situations that teenagers go through.

His character took us on an emotional roller coaster. We started with a high note whe he makes the Alahly soccer team, and subsequently being injured. He did not know how to cope with it, which led him to drink, and his stepfather covered for him because he didn’t want to hurt his mom and gave him the help that he needed for him to return to soccer, which we see in the last episode. Besides his sporting journey, we see him develop as a brother and be very protective of his sister and his new step-sister, Farida. We see him take a protective figure by the end of the season. He cares not only for his sisters but is willing to break up with his kind of girlfriend because his stepbrother has a crush on her and said that nothing would come between them being brothers. 

Layla and Ahmed’s relationship went through a wringer this season. From fear of infidelity to trouble with the children, losing the twins’ father, and managing a blended family, it was not the usual love story that we were expecting, but again, it took down that barrier of not addressing these things in mainly Egyptian television. For the most part, it’s the guy cheating. The woman is broken and doesn’t know what to do. Maybe she tries to pick herself back up; if she does, it’s a great feminist story. But this was different because we explored different generations and their advice to Layla as she navigated this difficult time in her relationship. It showed mother in laws can be supportive to their son’s partner and want the best for them. The show did not stray away from touching upon issues of intimacy either.

Layla and Ahmen’s relationship demonstrated that a relationship takes two people to work instead of just being blamed on the woman when it’s not working. While keeping a feminist agenda going, it also paid Ode to her Eastern femininity, which we saw through the dance classes she took with Badra. It felt like a genuine, authentic relationship that struggled to make it through, and it showed the effort required to make a relationship work instead of painting it one way or the other. Throughout it all, though, it demonstrated how much they cared for each other’s children and blended that family. No matter how hard of a Time the couple was having, they were always there for their children and never said this one’s your child. This one’s my child, and they treat all the children equally. 

The show tackled so much and did it so well that it’s hard to summarize why it left such a significant mark on people. It is one of those things you must watch to understand, but I can only say that it was an emotional comedic show that embedded so many messages. But above all, it taught us that family matters and you don’t have to be blood-related to someone to care so deeply for them. Additionally, how close the cast was off screen to made it us more eager to watch it. What was your favorite part of the show? 

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