New Jordanian Netflix original series AlRawabi School for Girls is proving to be something of a buzz new series, shining the light on little discussed – in mainstream media at least – issues such as bullying, but more importantly seen from a Middle Eastern perspective. The series is streamed in 190 countries, in more than 32 languages.
While on the surface the six-part series (it is not clear if a second season will be greenlit) created by the female duo of producer, director, writer (and popular comedy actress) Tima Shomali and Shirin Kamal, has certain similarities to US school-set series such as 13 Reasons Why, the Middle Eastern spin sees it head into darker territory at times, tackling honour killings and violence against women.
It is a series that is trending on the platform, and while the initial premise may seem familiar – a group of outsiders at a girls school in Jordan’s capital city of Amman take steps to get back at campus bullies who happen to be the popular girls – it is a pacy and acclaimed drama, that Decider has likened to HBO's rebooted series Gossip Girl, but with a "better-written story". Yes, they talk about Zac Efron's abs, homework and teachers, but bullying is at the core of the story.
The three ‘outsiders’ are played by Andria Tayeh (who plays the main victim Mariam) alongside Yara Mustafa and Rakeen Sa’ad as her allies Dina and Noaf, who help to plot revenge on the ‘popular’ girls. Leader of the ‘popular’ group Layan is played by Noor Taher while her friend Raina is played by Joanna Arida.
As Leen Hajjar wrote in Harper’s Bazzar Arabia:” While the series includes an engaging and thrilling plot filled with drama and incredible acting by the characters, it also digs deeper to provide crucial representation and commentary on issues commonly experienced among many young girls today.
“Some of these issues include bullying, relationships, friendships, social norms, and mental health that are widely present in many local and international schools, yet not commonly discussed or represented in many Arabic series,” she added.