Webseries: Ah, Man
The beautiful world of web series, with all its non-existent budget wonders, allows for a diversity of voice that no other media is allowing for. This is the case for the wonderful low budget web series, Ah, Man.
The tile comes from a play-on words of Amman, the capitol of the historic Arabic country of Jordan. But, for Ali and Dani, Amman might as well be Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For these expats, they may be living in a different country but this does not stop them from talking about racial and cultural identity, getting lattes at cafés, and sharing the virtues of cat memes.
The web series, which recently made an appearance at the Brooklyn Web Fest, is primarily a three team effort between Katie Norregaard as Dani, Khadar J as Ali and director Hussein Abdullah, who periodically makes an appearance as a taxi driver, almost serving as the pair’s guardian angels as they try to figure out the trivial things of life.
The concept of the show is simple. Dani and Ali are expats living in Amman. Dani is stuck between to different cultural identities of being half-Taiwanese and half-American (a sentiment her father disapproves of). Ali meanwhile, is a Jordanian-American who has come to the country to visit his roots and to learn Arabic (mainly to learn Arabic).
But, the show in its free-flowing narrative is special in its irreverent humor while being set in a historic city. Amman is beautiful but you rarely see Dani and Ali outside their apartment, away from the screen. In one episode, they are literally forced out and look at the beautiful city around them because they lost access to their Wi-Fi source. The diversity of voice and the episode structure will without a doubt draw comparisons to Broad City but the editing structure and humor of the show is more akin to Flight of the Concords than anything else.
It is sad that the show’s first (and hopefully not last season) is only six episodes averaging about five minutes each. One of the appeal of the show is to see how all three improve as the series moves along. The camera work and editing begins to gel together. The two leads begin to grow more confident in their roles and Dani and Ali become two real characters.
It goes to show that just because there is a different culture and different city, the problems faced by people are not the same. People are still anxious to fulfill any questions in identity, self-absorbed in their own narrative and pre-occupied with just being good people. All this and there is still time to wax poetic about lack of meaningful representation in Hollywood.
This voice, this talent, this subject matter is the type of show that web series are made for. It is a platform for distinct voices to channel their creative energy that was not previously available. At the same time, there is simply joy in making pretend with a group of friends. That joy is universal even if you are in Amman. And sometimes you just have to say in exasperation, Ah, Man.
All the episodes of Ah, Man is available on YouTube.