Yes! We're Finally Getting A Women-led Arab American Series With Freeform's "Ya Bint"
BY: MAE ABDULBAKI
Just this week, I wrote about what a big deal it was that Ramy Youssef’s self-titled Hulu series nabbed a couple of Emmy nominations. I’m always thirsty for more content centering Middle Eastern characters and stories since Ramy shouldn’t be the only one. Amazingly, it’s slowly starting to happen with Freeform’s upcoming dramedy, Ya Bint.
Literally translated from Arabic, the title means “the girl.” However, language is multilayered and the phrase refers to someone calling to get a woman’s attention (typically from a parent or elder) and, in some instances, added in at the end of a sentence meant to chastise. Ya Bint’s existence is exciting because it will tell the story of not one or two, but THREE Arab women — Maya, Lara, and Jumana — who have moved from the Middle East to Los Angeles and must navigate their life and “experiences across cultures and expectations.”
Excuse me while I lift my jaw up from off the floor. As an Arab American myself, this means a hell of a lot because it centers Middle Eastern women, who have barely been depicted at all in Western media, much less given an entire show to explore their experiences. Freeform has been very focused on women-centered content, what with The Bold Type and, more recently, Motherland: Fort Salem front and center. That said, Freeform did up and cancel the rebooted Party of Five, which explored the Latinx experience, after just one season. That was a shame and I’m hoping the same doesn’t happen to Ya Bint.
The series will be written and executive produced by Saudi Arabian-Palestinian actress Dina Shihabi (who will also have a role in the series) and Palestinian filmmaker Rolla Selbak (Three Veils, A Day With a Muslim). Additionally, Empire producer and acclaimed Moroccan-American director Sanaa Hamri will helm Ya Bint. There’s no word yet on when this series will premiere yet on Freeform, but I’m more than ready and excited to watch.