three things I liked and two things I didn’t about “The Land of Hypocrisy” on Netflix
Published: May 5, 2019
Three things I liked and two things I didn’t in “The Land of Hypocrisy” on Netflix.
I initially went to Netflix to check out the trailer for “Jinn,” a Netflix original show about a girl who releases a jinn in the form of a teenage boy, which is set to be released in June. While I was there, I decided to check out what else Netflix has to offer in terms of Arabic language content. Since I was craving a comedy, I settled on watching “The Land of Hypocrisy,” a show about an Egyptian man who is fed up with his life, both at work and at home. The following are three things I liked and two things I didn’t about the first three episodes of the show:
Three things I liked:
- The contrast between the ideal Egyptian life and real life in Egypt.
The show opens on a utopia of sorts. Every building is clean and colorful. Almost everyone is dressed in white or light colors. Our main character Masoud’s job, rather absurdly, is to spray the scent of flowers all through the streets of his neighborhood. Masoud later visits a café where two groups of fans of opposing soccer teams are watching a game. Rather than argue over whose team is the best, these fans fall over themselves to compliment each other. It’s a slap in the face when Masoud wakes up from what turns out to be a dream. His real job is to help his father sell couscous, a food that he’s grown quite tired of. His wife and mother-in-law are the banes of his existence. The men at the café watching the soccer game are a fight waiting to erupt. The contrast between the absurd utopia and Masoud’s reality had me immediately curious to see what will happen to Masoud.
- That it gets philosophical.
The show raises a lot of questions. For example, in the utopia presented in the first episode, Masoud’s only complaint is that he’s bored. Why? Can it be a utopia if Masoud is bored? More broadly, do humans need conflict and friction in their lives to feel happy?
Later, Masoud runs into an “alternative medicine” doctor who asks Masoud to be his guinea pig. This doctor has created pills for many different emotions, including one for courage and one for adolescence. After Masoud takes the pill for courage, he finds himself being quite brusque and violent with people, and he notices that people respond quite well to this treatment. Whereas before, they ignored or mistreated him, they now treat him like a king. Masoud begins to wonder if this is the way it has to be: you either oppress or get oppressed.
- The Egyptian humor.
The lead actor is the renowned comedian Mohamed Henedi. Watching him brought back all the memories of Egyptian comedies I’d watched before, and it’s always a treat to watch Henedi because he uses everything, including his short stature, to his advantage in his comedies.
Two things I didn’t like:
- Things got a little oppressive, in a way that wasn’t very funny.
Masoud’s wife and mother-in-law were veritable pains before Masoud took the courage pill. However, the contrast between how they behave before and after he takes the pill is more uncomfortable than funny. For example, Masoud demands that his wife Gamila dance at all times, and she’s so terrified of him at that point that she just begins to dance on demand whenever he calls for her. While this was meant to be funny, I found myself feeling uncomfortable watching Gamila get pushed around like this and wondered if it wasn’t possible to have both Masoud and Gamila happy at the same time.
- That it was kind of sad.
Since TV shows and other media tend to reflect the society and the times, I found myself feeling sad that perhaps Egyptian society had taken a turn for the worst. Both from conversations I’ve had with those still living in Egypt and from articles in the news, it seems that people are becoming less considerate of each other, and that indeed the heaviest fist is the one that rules. While “The Land of Hypocrisy” is a comedy, it has a dark undertone, because it is also a criticism of a failing society. Even as I laughed, I couldn’t ignore that the plot was largely propelled by a man disillusioned with his everyday life and by neighbors who acted more like gangsters than anything else.
A video of one of our dinner presentations, to end things on a lighter note:
Overall, it was fun to go back and watch an Egyptian comedy for the first time in a while. I also liked that anyone could watch the comedy and understand it, since Netflix has the option to add English subtitles. I will probably continue watching “The Land of Hypocrisy,” because I am curious to see what else the show has to say about humanity and Egyptian society. Of course, I am excited to watch “Jinn” when it comes out and to see what other Arabic language content Netflix will offer in the future!