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Israeli Sitcom About Palestinian Family Confronts Racism, Politics

Variety’s Under the Radar series looks at movies and TV shows that deserve a closer look.

What: “Arab Labor”

Where to watch: KCET, LinkTV, linktv.org/arablabor

Why watch: The first Israeli series to show Palestinians speaking Arabic on primetime was a groundbreaking mix of cultures, and is now available in the U.S. Often called the “Seinfeld” of the Middle East, the hourlong comedy, named for a Hebrew expression referring to cheap workmanship, is in its fourth season. The show confronts serious issues of racism and politics, while focusing on laughs and Larry David-style misunderstandings in the story of a Palestinian journalist who must cross into Jerusalem daily for work, and of his relationship with his quarrelsome extended family. Created by Israeli-Arab writer Sayed Kashua and producer Danny Paran, the series has won numerous awards, and is already ramping up for a fifth season.

Paran: “That this kind of comedy could go out on a commercial Israeli station and get such good ratings shows there’s still hope for Israeli citizens.”

Kashua: “My goal was to make Israeli audiences laugh with Arab characters, and love an Arab family.”

 

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