KCETLink Introduces Controversial Israeli Comedy ʻARAB LABORʼ to Southern California Audiences

Hit International Series Debuts on KCET on May 6;

Season 1 Reboots on Link TV on May 11

 

KCETLink and the Levantine Cultural Center to Hold Community Screening Event

for Arab Labor May 4 at 5 p.m. at Harmony Gold Preview House

 

BURBANK, Calif. - April 24, 2014 - While race relations in the Middle East aren't typically a laughing matter, ARAB LABOR, an award-winning Israeli sitcom, has engaged an enthusiastic global audience by poking fun at the cultural and political differences in Israelʼs mixed society. Today, KCETLink announced that the first season of ARAB LABOR will debut exclusively on KCET in Southern California with two half-hour back-to-back episodes Tuesday nights beginning May 6, 2014 at 9 p.m.

 

Additionally, the series will reboot from season 1 on national satellite network Link TV (via DirecTV 375 and DISH 9410) on Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET/PTARAB LABOR, broadcast in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles, debuted in the U.S. on Link TV in the fall of 2008.

 

Created by Sayed Kashua, an Israeli-born Palestinian journalist, ARAB LABOR (translated from the Hebrew "Avoda Aravit," which colloquially implies "shoddy or second-rate work") is a controversial hit Israeli comedy series that focuses on Amjad Alian, a Palestinian journalist and Israeli citizen in search of his identity, as he seeks high status in the society into which he was born, but where his car is searched everyday when he drives to his job in Jerusalem.

 

Humorously highlighting the collision of language, religion and custom, the milestone series depicts Israeli society through the eyes of an amusing Muslim Arab family and their constant desire to conform.  When it premiered in Israel in 2007, the sitcom marked a milestone on Israeli television as the first program to present Palestinian characters speaking Arabic in primetime.

 

"We are excited to introduce this unique and daring series to Southern California audiences, who represent a cultural melting pot," said Lorraine Hess, Vice President of Programming and Acquisitions for KCETLink, who first introduced ARAB LABOR to U.S. audiences on Link TV.  "We are confident this series can help enlighten viewers to some of the nuances around the Arab/Israeli experience that perhaps aren't evident from mainstream news reporting."

 

A community screening of ARAB LABOR will take place on Sunday, May 4, 2014, at   5 p.m. at the Harmony Gold Preview House at 7655 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. The screening, presented with the Levantine Cultural Center, will be followed by a panel discussion with community leaders, moderated by Jordan Elgrably, the Center's executive director. Media can RSVP at rsvp@levantinecenter.org.

 

ARAB LABOR stars Amjad Alian (Norman Issa), a Palestinian-Israeli journalist working in Jerusalem; Meir (Mariano Idelman), Amjad's Jewish-Israeli coworker at the newspaper; Bushra (Clara Khoury), Amjad's wife, mother of Maya; and Amal (Mira Awad), a Palestinian-Israeli attorney to whom Meir is attracted.

 

Episodes will stream online for two weeks following each broadcast at kcet.org/arablabor and linktv.org/arablabor.

 

Season One Episode Descriptions

"The Car"

Amjad is stopped regularly on the road for a security check by police and does not understand why, because he thinks he looks like the average Israeli. Meir tells him that it is because the Subaru he drives is considered an Arab car. Amjad decides to trade in his Subaru and gets into trouble with the owners of the chop shop. All this is going on while Amjad the journalist has to explain in the media why Arabs are involved in more traffic accidents.

 

"The Sheep"

Amjad moves from the news desk to the magazine. The editor asks him for a colorful, sexy piece. Amjad is not sure and deliberates until he hears from his father about a very special sheep who understands what the soldiers say.

 

"Kindergarten"

Amjad understands that it is time for his parents to stop babysitting his daughter every day and for her to go to kindergarten and broaden her horizons. At first, he tries an Islamic kindergarten with a good reputation in the village. The little girl becomes religious, and Amjad decides to look for a strictly kosher Jewish kindergarten for her. He tries several options and encounters expected and unexpected difficulties.

 

"Kidnapping"

Amjad and Meir are preparing an article about the Arab Miss Israel. Meir, who remains in the village to take pictures, is kidnapped by the taxi driver and his cronies. Amjad and his father set out on a rescue mission to free Meir from his kidnappers.

 

"Passover"

It is the week of Passover. Meir meets with Amal, an attorney and friend of Bushra. He invites her to the Passover Seder. Amjad is also invited along with his wife and children to the home of a reform family whose son goes to kindergarten with Maya. Amjad is enthusiastic about the Seder ceremony and decides to adopt the concept of the Haggadah into Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice).

 

"Reserve Duty"

Amjad is called into the police and asked to help supply information to the security forces. He gets very scared and tries to find a way out. His mother-in-law, who just moved in with them while her apartment is being remodeled and, as always, manages to annoy Amjad, will be his way of giving the GSS (General Security Services) what it wants.

 

"Loyalty"

Amjad interviews the leader of a new political party that advocates a repartitioning of Israel between Jews and Arabs. Amjad, who is not at all sure of which side he wants to be on in this new partitioning, goes to a psychologist to find resolution. Now the story starts getting really entangled.

 

"Crime on the Border"

Bushra honks at a BMW that is blocking them, and Amjad is afraid that he is about to get into it with one of the village criminals. He goes up to them to apologize for his wife's honking and gets into even more trouble. In the mean time, Meir is beside himself with jealousy because of a Palestinian student who is courting Amal.

 

"Meeting the Parents"

Amal wants to meet Meir's parents. Meir, who is afraid of the meeting, hires substitute parents who will play the role of his very left-wing parents, who have no problem at all with the fact that their son is in a relationship with an Arab woman. Amjad invites Bushra out to a fancy restaurant, where all of Jerusalem's elite set go and ends up in a mess with his neighbor, the dishwasher at the restaurant.

 

"Independence Day"

The race for the money reaches the delivery room. A known millionaire declares that he will award a million NIS to the first baby that is born on Independence Day. Bushra and Amjad compete with the Chen couple on who will give birth first.

 

ABOUT KCETLINK

KCETLink is the national independent public transmedia organization formed by the merger between KCET and Link Media. A viewer-supported 501c(3) organization, its content is distributed nationally via satellite on DirecTV (375) and DISH (9410), in Southern and Central California via broadcast, as well as through various digital delivery systems. The combined organization reaches a wide broadcast audience that includes Link TV's 33 million satellite subscribers and KCET's 5.6 million households in Southern and Central California. KCETLink is committed to driving public media innovation with smarter ways to access content that engages all audiences with global storytelling. For additional information about KCETLink productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org or linktv.org.

 

 

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