PRIDE MONTH PROGRAMMING: RAMY Delivers the Beautiful Yet Heartbreaking Story of “Uncle Naseem”

Laith Nakli as Uncle Naseem in “Ramy”

Ramy dropped its second season last Friday and boy what a season it is! Like season one, Ramy extends stand alone episodes for Ramy’s family members, this year including his Uncle Naseem (Laith Nakli).

SPOILERS AHEAD

In the season’s ninth episode, we learn during a surprising moment in a gym steam room that Ramy’s obnoxious uncle is gay. Naseem, a Muslim, is closeted and self loathing. The episode is an emotional rollercoaster as we follow Naseem over the course of a night after being told by his friend with benefits that they could no longer see each other just for secret sex. The friend told his dying brother that he’s gay and with that freedom he no longer wants to hide in the shadows or gym steam room with Naseem. Naseem wants no part of a relationship.

As Naseem wanders through the night we see him try out a gay club, which he quickly decides isn’t for him. While having dinner at his sister’s house, Naseem’s frustration with his secret life boils over into anger, alienating both his sister and brother-in-law. Naseem is a ticking bomb throughout the episode. We see the anger building from scene to scene. It’s quite sad, but also relatable.

Next, Naseem visits and old friend and there has a second dinner with him and his wife and young child. It’s clear that there’s more between the two men than friendship. His friend tells him that he chooses to live as a straight married man because he knows that’s what God wants for him. It was such a sad scene as we could see Naseem’s heart break.

Later in the episode, Naseem turns up at his friend with benefits house with a cake, as a peace offering. The two men eat pizza and watch tv and are unable to keep their eyes off of each other. When the friend goes in to kiss Naseem, he’s met with a punch to the mouth. Naseem stitches him up, but needless to say the mood is ruined and Naseem and his cake are shown the door. In what is most emotional and heartbreaking scene of the episode Naseem sits on a street bench, shoving the cake into his mouth.

The cake is the final piece of a through line in the episode. Naseem uses food to mask his frustrations. From standing in front of his refrigerator in his underwear shoveling everything in sight into his mouth, to his two dinners that evening and ending with the cake, Naseem uses food fill the emotional void in his life. Naseem wants love. We can see it in his eyes. But we can also see the fear.

This episode is beautifully written and should be one that is submitted for Emmy consideration. We don’t often see gay Muslims on tv and Ramy makes the most of every moment of the episode with a tightly written script. Nakli should definitely submit himself for Best Supporting Actor as he gives an incredible performance.

Ultimately, there is no resolution to Naseem’s struggle in the episode. No coming out, no happy ending. But his story isn’t uncommon. Representation matters.

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