There's a lot of pressure on Ramy Youssef, the star and creator of Hulu's groundbreaking series about a Muslim American family, to get it right. After all, it's a first. But as Youssef told "CBS This Morning," he pushed that notion entirely out of his head so he could focus on what he knows best: his own story.
"We just try to make it a good show. We have to. Because if we go in thinking this is the first show with an Arab-Muslim family and you take on all this weight, it's really not fair. Even the idea of saying first there's a desperation to it. It's almost like, 'Oh it might be the last,'" he said. "We call it 'Ramy' because it's just my story and we just wanted to start from there and hopefully that opens up other stories to be told."
"Ramy" follows a young, practicing Muslim American — played by Youssef — as he navigates everything from family pressures to dating. But whatever he might say about simply focusing on his own story, the series deftly explores the perspectives of the Muslim Americans around him, with episodes written from the perspective of his mom and sister. He also wanted to explore what he feels is rarely seen in stories about immigrants.
"I think a lot of the times we see stories of first generation immigrants and they're trying to push away their family, trying to push away their culture, their tradition, where they come from. I wanted to make a story that could kind of show what it's like to try and hold on to it," he said.
At the end of the first season, "Ramy" finds its main character in Cairo where he goes to seek clarity on his faith and identity but finds himself forced to confront an entirely different version of his family than what he had in mind.
"So, for me growing up here, there's this constant back-and-forth and that's really what the comedy describes and explains. I feel this pull to be here but also this pull to go to Egypt where my family is from," Youssef said.
"Every family member you try to hide is in the show. Every conversation you try to run away from is also in the show," he said. "It's definitely not an easy watch sometimes but we wanted to make something that felt real."