The “Arab Labor” sitcom is returning to Channel 2 for a fourth season hot off the heels of winning all the major awards at the Israeli Emmy awards.
We joined the people of the show at their premiere party to find out how a show about Arabs and Jews living together in the same building has become the No. 1 sitcom on the Israeli primetime.
Palestinian journalist and the creator of “Arab Labor,” Sayed Kashua, admits he based the show on his personal experiences but he hopes he is not as neurotic as his alter-ego, Amjad.
“I based the show on my own private experience sometimes, but I’m not trying to tell the truth about myself,” he says. “To be honest, I’m not sure what is the truth about myself. But yes, it deals with Amjad, who’s an Arab, a Palestinian journalist in an Israeli newspaper, just like myself or at least I used to be.
“He’s married to a psychotherapist, just like me, and the whole show is about the pregnancy, a very difficult pregnancy of Bushra, his wife, just like we had with our little baby last year.
“I hope I’m not that neurotic like Amjad in the show. Although my wife, when she watched, she said, ‘It’s exactly you.’ But I think I’m a little bit smarter than the actor and I’m a little bit more handsome than him.”
Actor Norman Issa, who portrays Amjad, admits viewers were hesitant to embrace the show initially because they were afraid to look at themselves closely.
“In the beginning people didn’t like it very much because it spoke about themselves, and afterwards they started to understand that this is a comedy, a sitcom, a TV show, and it’s not a documentary,” he says.
“Why is it so successful? I think because both Jews and Arab are afraid of each other, so this series makes them not afraid and get into the game… It’s very easy to get to these people through comedy and not by facing them about a fact or something.”