Often, family dramas tend to veer off in a direction that makes them quite tedious to watch. The family becomes a mouthpiece for the makers to cram their own worldview down our throats. But the new Netflix series Crashing Eid is a refreshing example of how to make a dramedy out of a complicated family situation that doesn’t have easy resolutions. The show is a lighthearted portrayal of a Saudi family where the daughter gets into a relationship with a Pakistani man. The problems don’t stop when the man shows up in Jeddah, thinking he will sort everything out, but quite the opposite happens.
Razan and Sameer are the couple that make the risky decision to get into a relationship without telling their parents about it. As both were Muslims, they didn’t think to what degree their different cultural backgrounds, (one Pakistani and one Saudi), could be a problem. Razan, the woman raised by Hasan and Mona, was a little bit more wary of her parents, possibly because this was her second relationship. Her first marriage ended in divorce, and she had a daughter, Lamar, whom she raised mostly alone. Razan was married off to her cousin, and even inside the cocoon of the family, she couldn’t protect herself from getting abused in the marriage. Now, she was taking another risk—marrying someone from another culture. Perhaps this thought was bothering her, which is why she didn’t tell her parents about her relationship. When Sameer arrived, there was just no way to hide the facts any longer. Now, the question was internal: Can Razan and Sameer really get married, even though they know their families are against the marriage?
This is a modern love story with a conservative core. It’s a universal tale of love, in a way. When couples have no opposition externally, they conjure up internal ones. When parents are conservative, children generally tend to be more adventurous and go against tradition. Razan and Sameer do not represent powerless individuals who depend on their parents’ decisions as to how they should live their lives. Razan and Sameer still want them on their side. Rebellion has its limits. The other theme running through the show is that of cultural differences. The Muslim aspect is discussed very early in the very first episode. Razan was sure that her parents would have no problem with the marriage as Sameer was a Muslim man. But when the news broke, all Razan’s parents worried about was the cultural difference. Being a Muslim did not help there. This could also hint that if he wasn’t a Muslim, the conversation wouldn’t have begun in the first place. Even Sameer was wary of the Saudi culture. This was clear when he warned Razan that her parents wouldn’t be as accepting as she was making them out to be. Love would be their only weapon if they had to win them over.
The characters in the series are fairly well-written. The conflict aside, it’s the humor the characters generate with their conversation that is so endearing. The creators seem to be mindful of the balance between sentimentality and humor. Some of the scenes are as cheesy as they come, but most of them are right on target, having that fine balance. As far as the characters are concerned, Razan and Sameer are two characters that millennials will relate to. They had the luxury of going abroad and studying, which opened up a new horizon as to what was possible in life, but at the back of their minds, they knew they had to have their parents onboard. Technically, Sameer never went outside of England. His parents had emigrated from Pakistan, and he was born and raised in London. So his mindset was more a British one, which is why he was shocked to hear that even his father was against the marriage, and his main objection was something that Sameer considered pedestrian—that Razan was a divorcee and even had a kid! What’s most interesting is that the writers pay special attention to the parents’ characters as well. Hasan and Mona are written in a manner that shows the parents’ side of things as well. Mona seems to be a callous mother, but under whose pressure she was working, is very subtly portrayed. Hasan’s character borders on being a bumbling dad, trying to be overly liberal, but soon it became clear that it was just a persona, and underneath that was a thinking man who wanted the best for his daughter. Even Sofyan, Razan’s brother, gets his subplot, through which Razan’s ex-husband is contrasted pretty well. Sofyan did everything he could to save his marriage, but it ended with the accusation that he hit his child. Razan’s ex beat his wife and yet got to meet Lamar. Such complex writing needed the four episodes to be nicely placed in the story rather than hammering us with all the information, which would have made the story seem completely manipulative.
With great writing, the responsibility of the performers was to do justice to the material. Razan, played by Summer Shesha, falls a bit short of capturing all the nuances of the story. The same goes for Hamza Haq, who played Sameer. But I would like to add that their passivity in some scenes may be more of a cultural thing, where people who have grown up in Western dramas may expect an outburst of emotion. Their performances, nonetheless, lack vibrance, which would have made the series a lot better. The show stealer is Khalid Alharbi, who plays Hasan. He brings an earnestness to his character that sets the tone for the kind of series it’s going to be. Up until he is introduced, the series could have veered off course into being a melodrama, but he keeps everything in check. Yasir, as Sofyan, is tender and understanding, breaking the stereotype that brothers are always a little hot-headed guys when it comes to their sisters’ marriages. The casting works well in most cases, and with some rather unusual but catchy music choices, Crashing Eid becomes an entertaining series that can be viewed with the family and perhaps even raises important issues as to how conservative families can navigate complicated situations.