Kuwait’s Ban on “High School Girls” a Mistake

Ramadan is over, and this is normally the time for loads of critical commentaries on soap operas featured on Arab television during the holy month. Several Ramadan dramas like “Al Hassan Wal Hussein” (on the roots of Sunni-Shi’ite tensions) and “In the Presence of the Absence” (on the late renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish) have generated heated debates across the region.

Yet, here in the Gulf Region, the most controversial Ramadan television series has been “High-School Girls,” (Banat al-Thanawiya) which was banned on Kuwaiti Al Wattan network because it claimed to tackle highly sensitive issues pertaining to teenage behavior. Dubai television has been the only network to boldly air the serial, scoring the highest viewership mark in Ramadan. The show addressed what we view as women-related cultural and social taboos. Its airing across the region was quite important for creating genuine awareness about a long-forgotten age group: female teenagers.

“High School Girls” tells the story of five teenage girls attending the same high school in Kuwait. Like other young people of their age, those girls made jokes in class, dreamed of love, disagreed with their parents in relation to their private lives, and so on. Samar, Reem, Manal, Muneera, and Shahed come from different backgrounds, guiding each other in some situations while moving on a collision course in others.

The Kuwaiti soap opera throws light on the five girls’ lives in different contexts, ranging from family to school to other settings in a rather comical fashion that embodied a good deal of subtle criticism. The director of the soap opera, Saed Huwari, called on five emerging actresses to play high school student roles.

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