‘Seeb Wana Aseeb’ (Tit for Tat) is the latest hit Egyptian romantic comedy, available for US-based audiences on Sling TV. The story follows a trendy fashion designer whose boyfriend proposes to her in Lebanon — only for her to discover she has been unknowingly married to her ex-fiancé for five years.
Now, how could such a circumstance come about? Well, our main character, Nabila (Hana El Zahed) is a runaway bride — but not just any runaway bride.
After leaving her husband, Ibrahim (Ahmed El-Saadany), at the wedding ceremony, she quite literally runs away from Egypt to become a fashion designer in Lebanon. Nabila achieves great success after participating in a well-known competition, and completely reinvents herself overseas.
When her current beau, Lebanese actor Carlos (Carlos Azar), proposes to her and wants to visit her family in Egypt, she realizes she must return home after five years abroad to prepare for disaster. The only issue is that she never expected to still be married to Ibrahim.
What proceeds is a story of hurt pride and vindictive hearts, comedic revenge, and drawn-out legal battles.
With that in mind, here is a spoiler-free breakdown of the good and the bad from the first few episodes, all of which are available for fans of Arabic-language programs and shows in the United States via the streaming service Sling Arabic TV.
Quirky and Colorful
The most standout aspect of ‘Seeb Wana Aseeb’ has to be its use of colors.
It is obvious that the show’s clothing technicians, Fahd El Moshref, Fady Al Roshy, and their team, went over the top with Nabila’s outfits, and it is to the series’ benefit. If nothing else, her costumes are undeniably eye-catching.
The colors in general are bright, loud, and in your face — not unlike most of the characters in the show, as nearly every member of the cast has a strong and memorable personality.
Even side characters, like Ibrahim’s lawyer friend who seems to prefer compromise over confrontation, or the villainess’s incompetent henchman, stand out for their distinctive traits or quirky costumes.
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That, in turn, goes hand in hand with the humor of each episode. ‘Seeb Wana Aseeb’ is a comedy at heart, and the genre takes center stage with over-the-top pranks, incredible pettiness between Nabila and Ibrahim, and the trademark humor evident in most Egyptian comedies.
That being said, below its bright and colorful surface, this show does tackle some deeper themes. For those who like to analyze the characters in their comedies, ‘Seeb Wana Aseeb’ offers some interesting material.
Without spoiling any plotlines, there are themes surrounding how Egyptian society perceives the value of men, the relationship between worthiness and respect, the power dynamics of Egyptian marriage, the determinants of masculinity, and defiance against repeating generational mistakes.
Like much of Egyptian media, ‘Seeb Wana Aseeb’ also touches on matters of classism, o’dat el khawaga (literally: ‘the foreigner’s complex,’ an unhealthy desire to appear westernized), avoiding scandals and upholding reputations, and more.
My main criticism of this show is that I feel some matters are made light of through comedy. Granted, ‘Seeb Wana Aseeb’ is categorized as a comedy, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but some things might have been handled a bit more delicately.
For instance, when Ibrahim and Nabila get into a loud argument at his garage, during which she demands that he divorce her, Ibrahim threatens to get physical several times. He does so under the pretense of making her uncomfortable to pay her back for the humiliation she caused him, but the image that the scene presents is not very funny.
Such scenes do not happen too often at the beginning of the series, and occasionally this kind of joke is better handled, but it is this type of humor that I feel makes light of something that is not a laughing matter.
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