The highly-anticipated first Arabic Netflix Original, Jinn, was finally dropped last week on the 13th of June, 2019. As much as Netflix fanatics around the Arab world were impatiently waiting for the release, the show, to our shock, has garnered a massive amount of mixed emotions.
Set in modern Amman, Jordan, the story follows a group of high school students who go on a field trip to one of the seven wonders of the world, the ancient Pink City of Petra. There, two genies; one good and the other evil, are mistakenly released, putting the students’ lives at stake.
Fantasy teen drama is not quite the series we’re used to seeing in the Middle East. Despite growing up to jinn stories, the plot itself pretty different, in a good way though. However, the five-episode series was attacked over two kissing scenes, that are claimed to be immoral, and the overall language used throughout the dialogue.
While some viewers attacked, claiming that this is not what the conservative Jordanian culture represents, others defended. Those pro the show said that it reflected the current reality of a portion of society, and that no one can deny its existence.
The uproar garnered global attention, not just from viewers, but from the Royal Film Commission in Jordan as well, that released a pretty diplomatic statement.
For starters, the commission explained that it has nothing to do with the script, nor the production itself. It only promotes its local industry and encourages foreign production in the country and the region. It also added that Netflix is an international platform that is not available to everyone; one must subscribe and pay a monthly fee to be able to watch the series, which leaves the freedom of choice to the viewer.
Not just that, the commission raised another issue of concern, addressing the same society that calls for freedom, acceptance, and diversity. However, the controversy occurs when freedom is portrayed, it’s met with such violent attacks. In addition to several more comments, the statement also clarified that the storyline is nothing but pure fiction and doesn’t necessarily have to reflect any reality.
It also seems that even the royal family had a say. Prince Ali bin Al Hussein took to Twitter and said, “All of this attention is given to a series that isn’t documenting anything in the first place. That’s all nothing but energy wasted on offending Jordanian families and individuals, instead of focusing on finding solutions to the country’s real problems. Let us respect others and their differences; Jordan has room for all groups, beliefs, and lifestyles as long as they’re peaceful. Enough, put an end this to.”
Netflix MENA also didn’t stand silently by. “We have, unfortunately, followed the current wave of bullying against the cast and crew of Jinn. We’re announcing that we’re not going to be negligent towards any of these behaviours or harsh comments. We’ve always been centred about diversity and inclusivity, and that’s why we work on providing a safe space for all film and series lovers around the region,” Netflix MENA tweeted.
Our say? Well, Jinn safely gets a 7 out of 10, making it worth the bingeing. After all, they’re only five episodes in total with a 30-minute runtime each. So, it’s just like a movie, you won’t lose anything.
Production-wise, it’s well done. The beauty shots, the editing, the frames; it’s all on point. As for the special effects, the results are pretty decent, and not over the top. Regarding the acting, the boys and girls on the show also deserve a thumbs up. The cast includes Salma Malhas, Sultan Alkhail, Hamzeh Okab (AKA everyone’s current on-screen crush), Aysha Shahaltough, Zaid Zoubi, and more. But overall, the crew, that features talented big names such as Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya and Amin Matalqa (who co-directed the series), have done a great job.
But what would the average Egyptian viewer say? Well, teen dramas and fantasies are not for everyone, especially as they’re not common in the region. However, if you’ve enjoyed series like Riverdale, or Stranger Things, you’ll most likely enjoy Jinn as well.
By Nadine Arab