When the trailer for upcoming Netflix show Tiny Pretty Things first came out, we were rooting for it. It looked interesting and we’d had it on the watch list for a while now. However, what we did not anticipate was yet another instance of questionable Muslim representation in Hollywood.
One of the show's main characters, Nabil Limyadi, played by Michael Hsu Rosen, is a devout Muslim. In the seventh episode of season one, he is seen offering namaz. This very same scene became the talk of the town when a Twitter user called out the makers for its absurdity.
"I’m begging you - please no more representation," the user captioned the video. In the clip, we see Nabil praying as his former girlfriend Cassie comes and the duo starts swooning to music. "You're in my way," Nabil says to Cassie as she stands in front of him. "It's okay now, you've finished."
And then, music starts playing and the duo starts dancing. Again, what?
Twitterati had a thing or two to say about the scene. "Netflix is that one kid who thinks Ramazan is a country," a user shared while another quips, "Ah yes, disrespecting my faith is the media representation I've always wanted."
Netflix is that one kid at school who thinks Ramadan is a country— Hadeed Butt (@mhadeedbutt) January 19, 2021
One more user shared, "Falsely portraying hijabis wasn’t enough for Netflix, they had to go and disrespect prayer- one of the most important obligations in Islam."
"Istg, Leave us alone," said one more.
While Muslim representation has increased when it comes to television, seems like a dialogue about how Islam and its followers are being portrayed onscreen is worth having with Netflix. This isn't the first (and dare we say, the last) time the streaming giant has made such a blunder.
Previously, in season two of Netflix's Elite, we see one of the main character's (Nadia Shano) praise-worthy transformation which had the entire internet talking. Nadia, played by Mina El Hammani, is a brilliant Muslim scholarship student in an elitist school, said to be even more 'empowered' after she takes off her hijab from the second season onwards. While many considered this as her taking a rebellious stand against her otherwise conservative family, what they missed out on is that Nadia was already pretty empowered. And the very narrative received ample flak for its troublesome content.
Last year, another Netflix film garnered criticism over sexualising teens. Cuties is a coming-of-age comedy/drama by French-Senegalese film-maker Maïmouna Doucouré. It is about an 11-year-old Senegalese girl who rebels against her conservative Muslim upbringing by joining a hip-hop dance troupe. It involves a conscious critique of how underage girls are sexualised by Western pop culture but Netflix came under fire for playing into this exact problem.
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