In Egypt, Ramadan is not only highly anticipated as month of spiritual fasting, but also as a month of television entertainment. It is estimated that 80% of original content is released during the month, broadcast after sunset when family gathers to eat, socialize, and watch the hottest stars in action.
One of my favorite party games is called Balderdash, a development of the very simple ‘dictionary game’. In the original version one player searches for an obscure word and writes the definition on a piece of paper. Every other player then makes up a definition, also writing it down and giving it to the selector. All papers are then read out loud, and points are scored not only for guessing the correct definition, but also for votes given to the most convincing–or outrageous–made up efforts.
The commercial version of Balderdash expands this concept to include obscure acronyms, laws, individuals, and… movie titles.
Which of the following do you think is an invented title and plot?
Free Fall: Malak is a psychopath who is accused of murdering her husband and her sister after the crime weapon, a gun, is found with her. When she is arrested the court decides to put her in a psychiatric clinic. She faces many problems inside the clinic until the truth about the murders is revealed at the end.
Above Reproach: Rahma is a sociopath who seems to be kind and normal, but in reality is consciously harming the people around her.
Marionette: A businessman’s wife is thinking about appearing on a popular television show. The husband intervenes, fearing that his past will be reopened, revealing his involvement in a murder.
Wedding Song: A theatrical group in the 1970s discover in a reading that the play they will perform is about their own lives and secrets. They refuse to take part in the play but the group leader insists, as his way to salvation. The actors find themselves on stage playing their own real life characters.
Father of the Girls: A businessman and a former drug dealer who owns a car shop has a dispute with one of his competitors, so he moves with his family to Cairo. But this does not end his problems.
A Psychiatric Clinic: The series is based on a true story about a female teacher in an international school who suffered sexual harassment from one of her students. Can she overcome the incident? Or will she discover that everyone around her is accusing the victim?
Seven Souls: A police officer arrests a powerful man accused of murdering a woman. The arrested man is sentenced to death. But what would happen to the police officer if the allegedly murdered woman is still alive?
Wanoos: A father of four meets a devil called Wanoos. He becomes attached to him and leaves his family, work and life. But after 20 years of trouble making and misdeeds, he reviews his past. Can he change?
Lineage Crisis: A nurse in a fertility clinic falls in love with one of the clients, a wealthy and married businessman. He secretly marries her, hoping to have a baby. But he dies before she becomes pregnant. The greedy wife invents a trick to inherit her late husband’s wealth. Is she able to deceive everyone?
Superman Daughters: Superman is visiting Egypt and meets with his dream girl in El-Haram Street. When he leaves, she discovers she is pregnant. Will she give birth to superboy or supergirl?
I wish I was creative enough to have invented these; all of the above are real synopses. Many thanks to Ahram Online for giving a preview of what Egyptians will be watching this month. Click here to watch short previews of the seven most highly anticipated dramas.
How do you think they compare to the list of American favorites? What do you think television reveals about the state of any society and its values?