5 Shows That Capture The Real New York

There are many TV shows that are either shot or set in New York, but only a handful are truly New York-centric. Here’s my top 5 of the ones that capture life in the City in the best and realest way possible:

#5 LOUIE

The only reason why “Louie” stands in fifth position is because it’s harder for me to relate to a mid-age divorced father than let’s say, a columnist with a passion for heels and fabulous girlfriends. But that doesn’t take anything away from the genius of Louis CK. The comedian describes the contrasts of life in New York with subtlety and a sharp sense of humor that is reminiscent of Woody Allen: from the low-key downtown artist life to the loneliness and anxiety of the Big City, “Louie” just gets it. I only wish there was as much jazz in the streets of New York as there is in Louie’s head.

#4 GIRLS

Having no idea where you’re going in life is a pretty common feeling for Millennials living in New York…and whining about it at a vegan Brooklyn coffee shop is their local sport. Yes, Hannah is annoying and that’s why “Girls” only gets the fourth position. I mean the girl has a paid writer position at GQ and quits because it’s not intellectually challenging enough for her? I die. But besides the obnoxious elitism of the show, “Girls” does a great job at capturing the mixed experiences of young adults living in New York. From trying to make it as an artist to having your heart treated like “monkey meat,” “Girls” is the first show to reveal the not-so-glamorous side of life in the City as a twenty something girl in a raw, yet hysterical way.

#3 HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA

A show that was cancelled after two seasons as #3, really? Yes, really. Because to this day, no other one did a better job at grasping the vibrant hustling spirit of New York’s youth. Ben and Cam have that cool group of friends you wish you had when you first arrive in the City. They are all fighting not to get sucked in the system and dream of becoming the best version of themselves. They are creative and street smart but get easily distracted by New York’s random adventures and endless parties. “How To Make It In America” is touching because it represents our complex generation: diverse, ambitious but also incredibly lazy and impatient. I’m still hoping for its return one day.

#2 SEX AND THE CITY

Do I even need to explain? “Sex and the City” was the first show to introduce New York as a character as opposed to a place. The City is one of the girls: it has a personality, a voice, a style. It’s magical, cheeky, and fabulous. “Sex and the City” is a  New York institution, restaurants or neighborhoods featured in each season  reflect what was “in” at the time of the episode, but also set the trend IRL. To this day, we still don’t know how Carrie could afford her stunning brownstone apartment and countless Manolo Blanicks by writing this one magazine column, but it doesn’t matter. The ups and downs of single life in New York and most importantly the sacred aspect of female friendship in such a crazy City are the reasons why the show will forever live on.

#1 BROAD CITY

How can I explain the hilarity of Broad City? If you haven’t started following the adventures of Ilana and Abbi, then stop everything that you are doing and turn on Comedy Central. If you have, then you probably screamed “YAS QUEEEEEN!” while discovering my #1. “Broad City” is simply the best show I’ve discovered in a very long time, and my favorite New York-centric show currently on air. “Broad City” is to 2015 what “Sex and the City” was to 2000. It paints a colorful portrait of what young souls in New York are up to these days: carelessly partying, smoking, Tindering, procrastinating, and laughing…a lot. You wanted “Girls” without all the whining? Broad City did it. Ilana and Abbi who both created and star in the show as fictional versions of themselves don’t take anything too seriously which is what makes the show so real and relatable. “Broad City” wasn’t the result of an all-star production team in search of the next big thing in comedy: it comes from the talent, energy and sass of two New York comedians who were trying to prove their parents they were actually working on something. It has that “Started from as a web series now we’re here” liberating format that makes it unique. Now go binge watch the first two seasons!

What are your favorite New York shows?

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How Little Does America Know About Islam?

Pledge of allegiance, dollar bills, national anthem, politics, court, army… In a country where God is literally everywhere, it’s hard to believe that people could be intolerant towards any religion.  So I found it disturbing when I heard that a NFL player was penalized for praying on the field in celebration of a touchdown. I thought America usually celebrated the expression of faith…but guess what religion Husain Abdullah was practicing?

If Islam is at the heart of many controversies in America, it has to do with the fact that Islamist organizations have been the number one enemies of the country for over a decade, but also because there are very few Muslim people living in the USA. Islam is a subject often surrounded by not only fear, but ignorance – aka the perfect combo for discrimination. Although the NFL quickly responded that the penalization for praying was an error, this tells a lot about where America stands not only with the Muslim world, but its own Muslim citizens. Beyond the obvious double-standard experienced by Muslims when it comes to public religious demonstrations, this incident raises another crucial question: how little does America know about Islam?

Judging by Bill Maher’s recent debate on the subject, I would say very little. One of his guests, self-claimed “very well educated on Islam” author Sam Harris started the conversation with the delightful: “Islam is the Mother lode of bad ideas.” No wonder why Ben Affleck called his words “gross and racist.” While I am not a religious person myself and agree with Bill Maher on the importance of challenging all beliefs, I think there is something deeply discriminatory in arguing that the “vast majority” of Muslims adheres to fundamentalist views.

If you were born and raised in America, chances are you didn’t grow up around many Muslim people as they only represent 0.8% of the population. You probably mostly heard about their religion via the news coverage of what has been called the “war on terror,”and that’s OK – as long as you don’t let that shape your thought process and refer to an imaginary “average Muslim” based on biased information.

Did the referee even know what the athlete was doing when he penalized him? Had he ever seen a Muslim pray? Was his decision based on hate or ignorance? I guess both possibilities make me equally sad, although ignorance can always be cured. Like my optimistic friend Wissam Hamou, a French-Algerian PHD student in regenerative biology and proud Mipster (Muslim Hipster,) pointed out: “There are different ways of being ignorant. In America, I feel like people ignore what Islam truly is because they haven’t been exposed to it in their daily lives. So when given the opportunity, they will try to educate themselves, and I think that’s a good thing.” So everything isn’t lost, but the challenge lies in creating opportunities to learn.

From the British students who started the anti-ISIS campaign #Notinmyname to Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, I could name many Muslims who are fighting against prejudice towards their religion, but also extremism within it. It’s just frustrating that the very people flagged as progressive in America fail to give them a voice.

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