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Hekayat Banat

Hekayat Banat: Stereotype-Filled Show about the Lives of Women

  • Dina El ShirbeenyHoureyya Farghali...
  • Drama
  • Out now
  • Hussein Shawkat
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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Hekayat Banat: Stereotype-Filled Show about the Lives of Women

According
to the show’s makers, Hekayet Banat
is supposed to be a realistic portrayal of the lives of young Egyptian women.
We beg to differ. Women don’t wake up with perfect hair, makeup and false
eyelashes or do spend the vast majority of their time and effort thinking
about men. The show focuses on a group of four friends of whom one, Salma (El
Shirbeeny), is interesting, another, Ahlam (Mubarak), has a distracting accent,
the third, Mariam (Ayman), is useless while the fourth, Camilia (Farghali), is
downright irritating.

Ahlam,
whose mother is desperate to find her a husband, works at a mobile phone company and
is in charge of coming up with cute, funny text messages to send to the clients
on a weekly basis. Salma has just graduated from college and dreams of fame.
Camilia works in business but has a ‘phD in men’ while Mariam sits at home all
day and has to ask her douche bag fiancé for permission before doing anything.

The
show could’ve had potential had it not been for the fact that it deals in clichés.
It shares the same spirit as films such as Think
like a Man
and He’s Just Not That into
You
to the point that the girls (and guys) seem more like archetypes than
characters. The girls specialize in sweeping assumptions about men; how they only think about sex, how they’re all bound to cheat on you if you don’t
switch up your look regularly, how they don’t give two hoots about a girl’s
mind and are only concerned with how she looks. Men don’t come off looking too
good here but then again neither do the women.

Out
of the four leads, the only one who comes across as an actual person, someone
you could imagine knowing, is Salma. While she may have a couple of screws
loose, she’s a lot more natural than the other girls. She doesn’t undergo a character
reversal upon seeing a cute guy the way that Ahlam does, she doesn’t act like
Regina George on crack the way that Camilia does nor is she a ridiculously
naive person who lounges around, wasting her life like Mariam.

The
infuriating thing is that we all know girls like the leads but in addition to
their defects, they have plenty of positive things to balance out their
characters. Who among us doesn’t know plenty of Mariams – girls who know close
to nothing about sex or girls who ask their partners for permission before
breathing; or Camilias – high maintenance girls whose love lives are always
filled with some kind of drama no matter how ridiculous? But the point is that
real life Mariams and Camilias aren’t defined by these traits. On the show however,
they’re not given a chance to transcend them. 

Production
wise, the show looks pretty good and so do the leads. Special props go out to
whoever decided to let Salma sport naturally curly hair. Yes, it’s another case
of the crazy girl with crazy hair, but it’s a start. Besides, her hair looks
great and as we all know, the styling is one of the main reasons these shows
are so popular. However, the absolute highlights are the numerous scenes of the
girls yelling at leering imbeciles and beating harassers over the head.
Watching them get their own back is just strangely cathartic.

Like This? Try

Girls, Sex & The City, Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl

360 Tip

The show airs on Dream 1 at 3 AM, 10 AM, 3 PM & 11 PM, on Dream 2 at 2 AM, 9 AM, 2 PM & 10 PM and on MBC Drama at 12 AM, 4 AM, 7 AM & 6 PM

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