“Thicker Than Water” is a Netflix series created by Nawell Madani and Simon Jablonka, with promising stellar performances. Four absolutely different yet strong women try to prove that they can survive and be victorious in this powerful and patriarchal world. All of them belong to a Muslim household, which gives importance to one’s family no matter what happens. When Fara exposes the ’24 News’ channel’s fake news strategy, she is almost fired, and thus, her family stands by her and suggests staying strong and trusting in God. When Selim is in trouble, all four women devise a plan to help resolve the problem, not knowing that a bigger complication is awaiting.
The episodes, one after another, take us through the drama happening within the Muslim family and their struggle to pull through in a village where they are literally considered outsiders. When you first start watching the series, you feel that this is going to be yet another series that will speak about Muslims as terrorists. But thankfully, the series is an amalgamation of beautifully written stories. Stories about working women who are ambitious yet down to earth and fully aware of their identity. Each of the main characters in the series is sketched in detail, and as a viewer, you know almost everything about them and want to be a part of their lives, regardless of how broken they are.
“Thicker Than Water” promises you an intriguing plot that keeps you glued to not just the events that are happening between the characters but also to each of their personal lives. It is a mix of drama, entertainment, conspiracy, ambition, and survival amidst the ensuing violence. There are four episodes that take us through the varied aspects of the lives of these women. The first episode speaks of how the sisters Fara, Souhila, Yasmine Bentayeb, and Souhila’s daughter Lina are ready to go to any extent to protect their family. They try to help their brother, Selim Zahiri, who has escaped a roadside check near Porte Maillot. He escaped the police because his car contained 20 to 50 kilograms of drugs. But the sisters weren’t aware that their brother was delivering drugs. They just wanted him to be safe from the allegations of a hit-and-run case. Thus, they take the car to Villier-le-Bel, where the riots had taken place earlier, and burn the car without noticing the drugs. The second episode shows the viewer how they have made a blunder and, instead of solving the issue, have actually doubled the problem. The drugs that Selim was transporting belonged to Oumar Diawara, a powerful drug lord who, though involved in this illegal activity, projected a positive image of himself through his community services. The third is about the rumors, spies, and manipulation that happen in the newsrooms and in the underground drug networks. And the fourth is about the plan that the sisters sketch to pay back 1.5 million to Oumar and get rid of the violence and uncertainty in their lives.
Fara, the protagonist, a struggling reporter on the ground and a news host later in the series, is smart and confident, but she has to gel with her colleagues to be accepted. Souhila lost her husband, and from then on, she has been involved in a lot of spiritual and charitable activities. She has two daughters, Imene and Lina, and as a single parent, she is trying to make ends meet. Yasmine is married to Karim and has two sons. She is not happy in the marriage, but she continues despite the mental load and tries to run her house. Each of them, although characteristically different and living lives poles apart, makes it a point to gather together with their mother and celebrate their festivals.
The series gives a commentary on how their village is connected, and if something happens in one corner, the news of it reaches someone at another corner. At the same time, the villagers who are connected so well aren’t ready to take responsibility for a situation; they start playing the blame game. The series throws light on the corruption that exists in the police force. It also shows how the media is responsible today for creating an image about a person or an organization and, at the same time, being able to distort it.
The entry of Fara in the news presentation room corrects the ethics of the channel. It makes the stories presented real and believable, and perhaps this will also start to give us a picture of how the world needs authentic reporters and presenters who dive deeper into real stories and help the voiceless speak out about their troubles. The series is also a testimony to how social media plays a vital role in a millennial’s life. When Lina presents herself as Rihanna on social media, it is a clear statement of the influence that the internet community is leaving on young minds. Lina’s friends are also influenced by the superficial lives presented on virtual social networks and platforms.
One aspect that the series very clearly addresses is that family relationships and ties remain sacred, and whether or not they are in the holy month of Ramadan, the women would go to any extent to rescue the family, living up to the title of the series. The series is fun to watch if you are interested in learning more about how working women are represented on television or OTT platforms. In this series, they are shown struggling to make a mark and scale higher amidst patriarchal ideologies. The dialogues at some point hint at the women being weaker and inferior in comparison to men, unable to be a part of a challenging business. But the characters care less about the stereotypes and assumptions surrounding them; empowered by the presence and support of one another, they start marching ahead.
There is a lot more in store for these women, from harassment to abuse to being treated as unimportant, but at the end of it all, they come out victorious and overthrow those attempting to shatter their dreams, identities, and respect. The series is worth watching for women who want to be empowered and embraced. It is after a long time of waiting and wanting that a series like “Thicker Than Water” starts to field feminine characters as saviors of a family.