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The first Kuwaiti Netflix show is heartwarming and funny, but it has flaws

Young love, secret meetings, midnight phone calls and plenty of slapstick comedy make Netflix’s first Kuwaiti series, The cage, a heartwarming, fun and nostalgic watch.

The show, which premiered Friday on the streaming platform, tells the story of a family counselor who works with a couple to help them communicate better and empathize with each other in a bid to save their marriage.

But when the counselor helps them rekindle their relationship, he faces problems in his own personal life.

The show was released on Netflix on September 23.

Given the premise of the show, that’s obvious The cage isn’t like most dramedies we’ve seen come out of the region before. Marriage counselors are not a topic in Arabic-language series, and speaking openly about relationship problems is not exactly the norm in Middle Eastern societies.

It does exist The cage its edge and comedy. Hussain AlMahdi’s character, Zaid, is reluctant to take the skeletons out of his marital closet, even in front of a counselor. For him, “marriage is a cage. Whether gold or silver or metal, it always rusts.”

His wife Rawan, played by Rawan Mahdi, also seems a little conflicted about saving the marriage, mostly because of her husband’s irritability, but still insists on seeking advice. After all, therapy is their last resort. The counselor, played by Khaled Ameen, tries to resolve their issues and reminds the couple what made them fall in love in the first place.

The show bounces back and forth in time as the couple reminisce about how they met and got married. The flashback scenes are packed with nostalgic elements, cheerfully reminiscent of the region’s pre-social media romances. These moments are driven by tropes that you’ve probably seen in other Arabic shows but give the humor as well as the vibrancy of the fashion and setting The cage its own unique twist.

Jasem Al-Muhanna’s direction is also spot on, alternating between a handheld camera for charged moments and steady shots for more pleasant reminders of the couple’s past.

However, the show makes some storytelling choices that seem promising and stylistic, but then doesn’t build on them. The Counselor breaks the fourth wall a few times in the first episode, but then fails to keep the narrative device up. In another scene, the couple argues about a specific event and the memory is re-enacted according to their different perspectives, another element not revisited.

Nevertheless, even with these shortcomings, The cage is an entertaining show that takes us back to the 1990s when romance was budding — a time of mixtapes, corded phones, and more social restrictions on dating.

While this may be the first Kuwaiti project on Netflix, the country has one of the region’s richest legacies in theater and television. The cage feels like a continuation of that legacy. All three main actors are recognized veterans of Kuwait’s theater scene. AlMahdi’s comedic background is particularly evident in the flashback scenes, complementing his skills as a drama performer. Ameen, meanwhile, gives a multifaceted performance as an advisor, but even after four episodes, many questions about his character remain unanswered, which is odd for a character who has broken the fourth wall and promised viewers a degree of transparency.

Whether that’s due to porous writing or if the show is gearing up for a satisfying reveal across the board remains to be seen.

Updated September 23, 2022 at 6:02 p.m

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