HOUSTON – Comedian and semi-autobiographical series by Houston’s own Mo Amer, MonthIt debuted on Netflix more than a few days ago, but critics are still praising it. Certainly, Amer’s screen presence makes him naturally likable and his character is witty and tragic enough to appeal to the average viewer.
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I say “the average viewer,” as a writer at Slate points out how quick Amer was to refute the idea that the show was a “Muslim comedy.” In its center, Month it’s about a man’s soul-searching, which is evident to anyone who’s followed the 41-year-old’s stand-up comedy.
It is not appropriate to say that Amer’s character, Mo Najjar, has an identity crisis because that would imply that he cannot decide who he is. Like Amer, Mo Najjar is ethnically Palestinian, but was born in Kuwait and raised in Alief, Texas. He is also fluent in Spanish and is a Muslim.
HOUSTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 17: Mohammed Amer attends Netflix’s “MO” Exclusive Sneak Peek & Talk at The DeLuxe Theater on August 17, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Netflix)
However, the meaning behind her ethnicity is the main crux of Najjar’s struggle, as it is even mentioned in one of the episodes where her mother testifies in court for her immigration hearing that she was born in Palestine and a lawyer Homeland Security interrupts her.
“Palestine is not a state recognized by the court,” he objects.
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Throughout the series, you’ll see bits of identity that Najjar clings to, like the ambrosia of olive oil and the bass sounds of Chopped & Screwed’s music. Still, his tragedy is the question of how he can look in the mirror and confront his choices when he is not sure how others will perceive him.
For example, on the one hand, Najjar does not convey the perception of a “particularly religious Muslim,” as his girlfriend jokes, who says, “I’ve never seen you pray,” but is uncomfortable walking into a church. .
HOUSTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 17: (L-R) Bun B, Mohammed Amer, Teresa Ruiz and Tobe Nwigwe speak onstage during Netflix’s “MO” Exclusive Sneak Peek & Talk at The DeLuxe Theater on August 17, 2022 in Houston , Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Image
In the end, Month it is a corridor to a world where we can exist as ourselves. For Najjar (and perhaps even for Amer himself) there is no need to feel connected to a single identity. Just as Houston revels in his own diversity, Najjar can, too, without having to think too much of himself.
Indeed, it would be a fair argument, then, to suggest Month it highlights the complexity of religion and culture itself, where subtle nuances are bound to create division. Whereas Amer has instead chosen to cap them off and give everyone a piece of something everyone can enjoy, whether it’s the laughter of a joke, the nostalgia of the background music, a specific cultural reference, or an honest tear.