AlRawabi School for Girls brings drama from a girls’ high school in Amman, Jordan to Netflix. Thematically it deals with bullying and retribution. It’s packed with mean girl tropes, but grows more nuanced as the episodes progress.
AlRawabi School for Girls offers unique perspectives on the bullying mean girl story line. It’s set in Jordan. The students come from rich families. The girls’ behavior is strictly regulated and the patriarchy feels justified in honor killings if girls bring shame to their families.
Tima Shomali directed and created the series. Seeing something with a large female cast directed by a Jordanian woman is a new experience. I was very curious because of that. Seeing the girls in the classroom, on the soccer field, in the school bathroom, in their homes and bedrooms, and on a school trip was enlightening.
The girls spoke Arabic, peppered with English. That fact highlighted the sad truth that the girls were better educated than many American students. They were steeped in Western culture. They were all about music and social media and boys.
The plot seems simple at first, but it expands in surprising directions. Quiet and studious Mariam (Andria Tayeh) is bullied by three mean girls who rule the school.
Layan (Noor Taher) was the ringleader of the bullies. Rania (Joanna Arida) and Roqayya (Salsabiela A.) were her minions.
Mariam’s best friend was Dina (Yara Mustafa). The troubled looking and multiply pierced Noaf (Rakeen Saad) was a new student who became friends with them.
After a serious beating from Layan and her crew, Mariam decides to seek revenge. She makes plans to get even. Noaf agrees to help her and later Dina joins in.
But things get twisted. Mariam’s lust for revenge leads her to dark places. We see into each of the 6 girls lives just enough to understand them and what they face. In the push and pull among these 6 girls as they interact in each other’s lives, some seriously bad things happen.
It’s simplistic to disregard this series because it tells a familiar story. More to the point, it’s not an American story. The culture, the values, the religion, and the expectations for girls all combine to make this series worthy of a look.
Here’s a trailer.
If you take a look at this series, I’d like to know what you thought. Were you surprised by the stunning reveal at the end?