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Between Nostalgia and Hope: ‘Rivo’ Series Review

June 18, 2022

With layered blowouts and vibrant colorful clothes, WATCH IT’s new original mini-series, Rivo, takes us back to the flare of the 90s with its layered drama and mystery-shrouded episodes.

Launched on 2 June, Rivo is WATCH IT’s mini-series — the 10-episode show features a star-studded cast, and follows the journey of a famous writer’s daughter as she tries to uncover certain truths about her father’s past.

Rivo, with a title evoking the bygone Egyptian painkiller brand, was created by Mohamed Nayer and directed by Yahya Ismail. It stars two members of Egyptian band Cairokee, lead singer Amir Eid and drummer Tamer Hashem, AlRawabi School for Girls’ Jordanian actress Rakeen Saad, as well as Egyptian actors Sedky Sakhr, Sarrah Abdel Rahman, Hassan Abouelrouss, Mina El-Naggar, Mohamed Moula, Ahmed Fadell, Malak El-Husseiny, and more.

Note to readers: the below contains minor spoilers for the show, especially for those who have not watched its trailers.

The plot follows Mariam Hassan Fakher el-Din(Rakeen Saad) who struggles to accept the loss of her father Hassan Fakhr Eldin (Mohsen Mohieddin) , a renowned artist and writer. Mariam’s father passes away at the start of the pilot episode, leaving her with a pool of unanswered questions.

Rakeen Saad as Mariam Fakhr El Din

A grieving Mariam finds herself continuing her father’s work on a film he had been writing, but failed to complete, about a band named Rivo that was founded in the 1990s. Mariam is left with little to no information, but holding onto her father’s work, she is determined to finish the writing of the screenplay.

From this point onward, Mariam embarks on journeys to find the members of the band Rivo, who appear to have been split up for quite a while. On her quest to find more about the story her father was interested in, Mariam is met with challenges and hurdles that complicate the process. The audience, and Mariam, learn more about the band through a series of flashbacks that are narrated by different characters.

How the Show Uncovers Important Issues

The show’s story does not solely rest on the band’s establishment and breakup, but rather, it deals with important underlying social issues that are often overlooked. From addressing hopelessness, grief, and suicide, to success and failure, the 10-episode series manages to seep into the hidden but universal secrets buried inside every person.

The band consisted of five members, Shady Ashraf (Amir Eid), Marwan Sami (Sedky Sakhr), Maged George, (Tamer Hashem), Abaza (Hassan Abouelrouss), and Neuman (Mina El Naggar). Through the episodes, viewers see the formation of Rivo, and how the dreams of these young men unfold to become reality.

But like most things in life, the band’s time came to an end. Each member went on to lead different lives, lives that were far from centered around their fervor and passion as musicians. We see Khedr’s character dealing with treatment at a hospital as he recovers from his third suicide attempt, Abouelrouss’ character evolving into an Imam at a Mosque, El Naggar’s character as a notorious busisnessman, and Hashem’s character, brimming with hope, despite losing one hand. As Mariam learns more about each character, she is left with one lingering question: where is Shady, the leader of the band?

Throughout the rest of the episodes, the plot arcs with Mariam finding out secrets about her father that she had never known before.

Overall, Rivo manages to successfully pay a beautiful homage to the nineties era, a well-crafted series with a powerful script that masterfully draws on the watcher’s emotions – highlighting a line between despair and hopefulness. Though the first eight episodes are well-paced, the last two episodes cram a lot of information in a way that can easily overwhelm viewers.

The last episode ends on a cliffhanger, making the audience wonder if there will be a second season to the series. With Amir Eid’s stellar singing and acting performance, the simple yet compelling dialogue, and the underlying social issues discussed, Rivo stands as one of the best Egyptian shows produced in recent years.