Mo Amer Explains How Mo’s Muslim American Storyline Differs From Ramy And The Major Way The Shows Are Connected

Ramy and Mo series starring Muslim Americans
(Image credit: Hulu/Netflix)

Mo Amer has been working to break into comedy since he was a teen living in Houston, Texas. In the past few years, the Palestinean-American standup has started to become a household name, especially among fellow Arab and Muslim Americans, as his hilariously relatable bits – whether it be about how to make hummus or getting stopped at the airport – have gone viral online, and journeyed to late night TV. Following up his role in the Emmy-nominated series, Ramy, now Amer has a show of his own, Netflix’s Mo, and while it feels just as honest as Ramy, there’s new ground being covered in the story.

Amer co-created Mo alongside Ramy Youssef following the rousing success of Ramy, which had concluded its second Season in 2020 and has a new run of episodes set to arrive this fall. It's became one of the few honest portrayals of Muslim American characters in a pop culture landscape where stereotypes are common. When CinemaBlend spoke to Mo Amer about his new Netflix series, he spoke to how Mo stands apart from the Hulu show:

Like Ramy knows, it is very important to understand that the story is within my DNA and completely different from that show. There's completely different subjects, and, also, you have a Palestinian playing a Palestinian. It's not someone who's doing it for the story or acting; no, this is grounded. My mother on the show has had a similar story: born in Nablus, moved to Kuwait, fled the war in Kuwait from the Gulf war and to America. Like it's really incredible to have that kind of thumbprint on American television on the global scale. I don't really think, I even understand what's about to happen.

Mo is about Mo Najjar, a Palestian refugee who has lived in Houston since he was a kid and his mix of funny and tragic struggles as he seeks to obtain his U.S. citizenship, make a living, and balance the two (often conflicting) cultures he’s been part of throughout his life. It’s a different angle than Ramy, where he played the cousin to Egyptian American Ramy Hassan, who is a first-generation Muslim American living in New Jersey. Amer told explained that his own ideas for Mo started long before Ramy was in production. He continued, 

I shared it with Ramy [back in 2014] and he was very excited to maybe build something around me. And I just wasn't ready. I was like, 'No, it's not time, I need to do my specials first.' And then he went off and did his series. So we've definitely inspired each other. I definitely inspired him, and we've had this cooperative relationship where we have introduced [each other] to a lot of great friends of mine and we’ve all built this family and it's beautiful. And I was like, whenever I'm ready, whenever it's time, then I'll do my show.

Almost a decade ago, Mo Amer had aspirations to use his personal life experiences and those of his parents to tell a story, but the time wasn't right time for him to make his show. As he shared, he decided to focus on his standup career before pursuing Mo

In hindsight, Amer believes it was the right decision, because being on Ramy allowed him to get into acting for the first time before taking center stage in Mo

[Working on Ramy first] helped me in the sense of like performing in the show probably helped me the most in the sense, so people know that I can do this. Handing over a show to someone without having in-depth acting experience was really hard to do, to show it, excel at it and do it on a high level, made things even easier. So I have a lot of gratitude for that. I'm obviously blessed to do that. We have relationships that'll last a lifetime from that.

Between Ramy and Mo, Ramy Youssef and Mo Amer have helped create space on television for more Muslim American representation in television. Since Ramy’s success, their co-star May Calamawy has become a Marvel star as a part of the Moon Knight cast, and Amer is set to be part of the Black Adam cast as well. With Mo, Amer gets the chance to really tell a personal and unique story that is inspired by some of his personal experiences living in Texas as a Palestinian refugee. 

All eight episodes of the first season of Mo are available to stream starting Wednesday, August 24, with a Netflix subscription

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.