What Ramy Youssef has planned for the next chapter of 'Ramy': 'I treat every season like it might be the last'

Though the upcoming season hasn’t yet left the writers’ room, the Golden Globe-winning actor says he already feels inspired by where it’s going

This image released by Hulu shows Ramy Youssef in a scene from "Ramy." Ramy was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor in a musical/comedy series on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (Hasan Amin/Hulu via AP)
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Things didn’t look too good for Ramy when we last saw him.

The titular character of the hit TV show Ramy was sleeping in a rundown car on the side of the road, listening to a tape about being a better Muslim. His new wife had just left him. His mentor and former father-in-law, Sheikh Ali Malik, was enraged with him. His cousin, for whom he had romantic feelings, wanted nothing to do with him.

It seemed that there, on the punctured bench seat of his car, Ramy had hit rock bottom. But things might pick up in the next season.

“We’re going to see a different side of Ramy and the family that we’ve never seen before,” says Ramy Youssef, the creator and lead actor of the award-winning Hulu show, of which season one is now available to watch regionally on Starzplay. “There will be some funny complications.”

epa08106013 Ramy Youssef poses with the Best Performance by an Actor In a Television Series - Musical or Comedy award in the press room during the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California, USA, 05 January 2020.  EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA

The show, Youssef says, is meant to progress much like someone’s life, becoming lighter and funnier in some parts and heavier in others. Though the upcoming season hasn’t yet left the writers’ room, Youssef says he already feels inspired by where it’s going.

“The next year of Ramy and his family’s life is going to have its own kind of feeling. In the first two seasons, we’ve seen a lot of characters in their private moments. We’d like to see more of the family together and more of the characters together. We’re really leaning into our ensemble but also seeing them in different ways.”

Youssef says he always goes into each season with a clear set of intentions. Season one was based primarily on his stand-up sketches but a few episodes – namely the flashback to Ramy’s time at school during 9/11 and his visit to Egypt – were percolating in his mind for some time.

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The invitation [to Mo Salah] is still open. We'll see what happens

“The 9/11 episode was a movie idea that I’d had for ever,” he says.

The initial ideas may take new shape as they begin to unfold, Youssef says, but he’s always pleasantly surprised by how things turn out in the end.

“After the first season, you get really excited when you meet the characters and then you’re like, 'wow, they’re growing into something that wasn’t the original plan'. And that’s from the writing, and being blown away by the actors, and wanting to write to them more when you know what they’re going to do really well.”

The way the first season developed, Youssef says, helped guide him and the writing team with what they wanted Ramy to emotionally experience during the second season.

“The more we talked things out and we got a gift like Mahershala Ali [Sheikh Ali], we were like, 'cool, we can do even more than we thought we could in the theme of watching this guy battle with his higher self and lower self'.”

Hiam Abbass, Amr Waked, May Calamawy, Ramy Youssef, Rosaline Elbay and Shadi Alfons in 'Ramy'. Courtesy Starzplay

Similarly, in season three, there were intentions Youssef had before going into the writers’ room, things he wanted Ramy to explore based on the decisions he’s made thus far.

“We have such a great writing team and we just kind of push it to places that you can really only go with a curious and thoughtful group. They’re hard to go to alone. This show is not as special as it is without the team that writes it with me.”

Youssef says he has envisioned a “first end” for the show that he won’t share just yet, but he does want to keep exploring his alter ego's character for a good, long stretch. He may one day, he says, put the show aside to explore other avenues as an actor and writer before returning to it.

"In many ways, I see the show as something I'd like to do up until a certain chapter that I see as an end to my young adult life," he says. "But then it's also my name. I would love to put it down for a few years and go live a bunch of life and then come back and go into a whole different type of thing with Ramy. But that being said, I treat every season like it might be the last."

The upcoming season will see the return of two-time Oscar-winning actor Ali as Sheikh Ali and Youssef says he's hoping to get a few more big names on the show. In his last interview with The National, he mentioned approaching Lindsay Lohan for a guest spot and also noted he'd love to have "the Egyptian legend" Mo Salah take part.

“The invitation is still open. We’ll see what happens,” he says. “We haven’t gotten any movement on it yet but we’ll see. If we can make it happen, that would be great.”

For now, Youssef says he wants to focus more on his core characters. “We’re in the middle of writing and we’re really focusing on just how amazing the characters that we have built into our cast are."

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