I know that language can be something of a barrier for some people but do not let that stop you from enjoying AlRawabi School For Girls, one of the best tv shows in Arabic, in my humble opinion.
Netflix showed me the trailer and I was somehow hooked even if I could not understand one word that the characters were saying (this is why we have subtitles, right?).
I put AlRawabi School for Girls on the my-to-watch list and almost forgot about this when I saw the title again on a sunny summer day. I figured, it is pretty short (just six episodes in the first season) so I can pass out the time with it. And then I could not press the next episode faster.
AlRawabi School For Girls’ plot
At this prestigious school for girls, we have the usual queen B represented by our antagonist, Layan. You know that she is popular because even if she sneaks out of the school bus to see her secret boyfriend no one tells on her. Her father is an important person in society and even if the teachers suspect that Layan skipped classes they cannot do anything that will anger her father.
Of course, anyone wants to be near her but only two girls can state that they are her friends. Classic minions of the queen of the school.
But not everyone wants to be part of her clique. Mariam is the opposite of Layan. She is a studious girl who appreciates the school and everything that it has to offer to her.
Because they are polar opposites and Layan feels threatened by miss perfection she spreads a rumor about her, nothing too damaging but serious enough to make her tell the headmistress that she skipped the day before.
Layan almost saved herself from the headmistress’s wrath and realized who the girl that told about her secret rendezvous was. She tricks Mariam into coming to an abandoned part of the school and beats her till she almost is killed.
This incident makes Mariam fear Layan and loses her chance of telling who knocked her up. When the cops admit that the school has security cameras Layan lies to make herself the victim.
Mariam is suspended. The two weeks spent at home were the perfect time for her to cook up a plan of destroying Layan, her minions, and the headmistress who knew that Layan lied. And which better weapon that the patriarchal view of women from the Arab world?
Even if you are not familiar with the Arabic rules of society they are so vividly different from the western world that they are bound to make you feel awful. And I come from a Balkan country where misogyny views are the standard. AlRawabi School for girls does not shy itself from showing the ugly truth.
All of Mariam’s revenge plans are made keeping in mind how society views women: the posting of a picture of a girl without her hijab for example.
There is not one moment where you do not think that even if Mariam is right to feel vengeful she is doing this all wrong, she gets stuck in this vicious circle and she becomes exactly like her tormentors. And nobody can turn her away from her path, even knowing the consequences.
The actresses did a terrific job of portraying the blend of innocence (because what are the antagonists but other tortured souls that inflict pain where they can feel powerful) and the meanness of teenagers.
If you take the main cast you see that the whole school is to blame for this toxic atmosphere. The other girls do not need Layan to start inflicting pain on their classmates, they are the first to mock the others for a fashion faux. Even the teachers blame the girls for wearing shorts and (considered in the West) a normal swimsuit. Under these conditions can we blame any of the girls that they turned up how they did?
The second season has been ordered by Netflix and now we can all wait to see if it is going to live up to the brilliant introduction. However, we are sure that it will do.