Image 1 of 8: To catch a predator... or a minor: Al-Qasirat (Minor Girls) has left many viewers unsettled by bedroom scenes displaying 9 year-old girls forced into adult wifely duties. But let’s give the makers the benefit of the doubt for trying to bring the very serious and very real issue of child marriage to the fore. Comes with a PG advisory tag.
Image 1 of 8: You'll feel the heat while watching Egyptian drama ‘Heat Wave.’ "Mawja Harra" was branded inappropriate for kids due to its gritty sexual content. An 18+ warning tag appears with the opening credits, accompanied by the bill: “We live a very realistic harsh day beyond imagination, we didn’t make it, life did.”
Image 1 of 8: Violence is not what you’d traditionally associate Ramadan TV with, but “Hayat’s Story” offers a wild brew of brawls & cussing. Still, the producers are keeping the conservative guardians in mind, offering viewers the chance to balk & back out via nifty flash previews of the bad content coming up. One scene has Sana Shafi cursing religion.
Image 1 of 8: Syrian TV drama We’ll Be Right Back may seem like it’s another soap about the Syrian conflict. But, they ain't just got war on their minds, as scenes of betrayal and naughty relationships forbidden in Islam make their way onto that small screen. Parental guidance is advised if the little ones are watching "Sana'ood Ba'da Qaleel".
Image 1 of 8: Good Mood will leave you anything but and out of sorts if you’re not into exotic dancing and all that jazz! "Mazaj Al Khair" has been flagged inappropriate because the provocative dancers a wee bit too sexual and they run their mouths off with profanities from the get-go right up until the closing hip-shake.
Image 1 of 8: The show “Neeran Sadeeqa” (Friendly Fire) makes for less friendly more fiery viewing! What’s on the rap-sheet? We’ve got bad language and unholy insults, not used sparingly for the benefit of the family viewers either. The show also airs out of wedlock adult relationships. Kids don’t try this at home!
Image 1 of 8: Stepping away from the racy Ramadan soap world, it doesn't get much cleaner in the rest of the holy month's line-up. The talk show “Maqaleb” (Pranks) aired a notorious controversial episode featuring filth-pot Haifa Wehbe cussing like a Lebanese man, as even the cute censorship bleeps were not enough to tone down her common cursing.
Image 1 of 8: The Syrian show “Munbar Al Mawta” (Pulpits of Death) is unsurprisingly, given the show's dark title, not suitable for the fainthearted or young. Less obscenities and sex, more violence and gore, fresh from the Syrian bloodbath. Children, it's bedtime! No more late Ramadan TV, the monsters under your bed are a safer bet than this unholy special!
As recently as last year, families used to sit around the telly for late Ramadan nights of family-friendly shows. This holy season, it's as though a switch has been flicked - Grandma suitable conservative shows have been replaced by the raunchy and provocative.
Perhaps a dark force has visited scriptwriters to cloud their judgment - sex and violence are common place, rendering the era of comedies and heart-felt and wholesome life lessons a TV memory from a bygone era of Little House on the Prairie or Bab Al-Hara, its Arab kin.
Whatever happened to the age of innocence that attended the holy month? Ramadan is all about children getting to stay up late - bedtimes and night curfews are off the table. With a tendency to let the parental guard down during Ramadan, watershed worries often waft out the window with a carefree puff of argeeleh smoke.
But a new trend in graphic telly is leaving the up and coming generation all the wiser about the cruelties and guilty pleasures of life than we were at twice their age. Ramadan TV shows have gotten grittier, sexier and more risque than ever before.
In the battle between parental guidance and a desire to push the boundaries of programming, it's clear to see which side has won. Several TV shows made history this Ramadan as they were slapped with an 18+ rating; their explicit content required a parental advisory disclamer.
With rumours that the unrest in Egypt has resulted in a more lax take on family shows, one can only suspect that the widespread turmoil has led to some cheeky chancers slipping in naughty content to the Ramadan lineup. One could be forgiven for assuming that the Egyptian censor has taken a holiday as the Nile is churning out some of the naughtiest content ever seen on regional telly.
Whether the industry censors have run amock or standards are just slipping, some believe that this year's shows are making a mockery out of Ramadan. But alas - even Arab TV channels don't care about family values. There's no room for prudes in the house when ratings are involved.
Ramadan this year gets a bold PG warning. Cover your kids' eyes because what's being shown in the holiest month of the Islamic calendar isn't pretty. Here's our x-rated panel of TV's rude and racy Ramadan treats, uncut!
Has Ramadan's TV line-up gone too far? Is this a slippery slope into the sordid space of a war-ravaged, all holds-barred Middle East? Has the Egyptian chaos caused the censors to run riot?