With “Miskina, the poor”, the humorist Melha Bedia does she succeed in entering the world of the series?

Identity, love, spirituality: the series of the endearing thirty-year-old comedian goes wide… at the risk of missing its target.

Since his show Fat and Furious, released in 2017, Melha Bedia has established herself as a humor boss in France. Former protege of Diam’s – who pushed her to go on stage – and younger sister of Ramzy Bedia, the young thirty-year-old broke through as an actress in mainstream comedies (Strong by Katia Lewkowicz, The very very high class by Frédéric Quiring) and landed its first series for Prime Video, which finally had the opportunity to enter the list of broadcasters that matter. Because since the horrific Deutsch Landes in 2018, which we still have a nightmare about, the meeting of Jeff Bezos’ firm with French fiction did not really take place.

Miskina, the poor tells the story of Fara, a young woman in her thirties who still lives with her mother and grandmother, a “Tanguy” as a dialogue from the first episode puts it – a somewhat sclerotic transgenerational reference, like the culture French has the secret. Fara has no boyfriend, no money, she’s myopic and fat, watches her sister marry a non-Muslim and doesn’t dare kiss her crush. In her Algerian family, she is a bit of a stain, like a kind of anti-model of success launched into an existence that should logically lead her nowhere. The series works hard to find a destination for it, which quickly manifests itself in a quest for identity. Fara delves deeper into her once near-null relationship to Islam and reflects on its shortcomings, which an absent father may have made critical.

Identity quest

This story, the French series have often made the economy, wrongly. And even in the current landscape, there is no equivalent to Miskina, the poor elsewhere than in certain foreign creations, in particular the first season of Ramy whose hero, a young American Muslim of Egyptian origin, remained torn between his desires as a millenial with a cap and the traditions of his family background. The reference is present here, although Melha Bedia primarily tells a version of her own story – Zidane wallpaper included – with the help of co-creators Yoann Gromb and Xavier Lacaille and the series’ second director with her, Anthony Marciano.

Should the clichés be replaced by others? That is the question, here as elsewhere. While it gives voice to underrepresented characters, the series also struggles to veer off predictable paths. A Jewish character and a white, converted non-Muslim are added to the story a bit like hair on the soup, while the most interesting issues – why stand still in life, a real question – remain at the dock, at least in the first episodes, perhaps for lack of audacity.

Precarious balance

Miskina, the poor finds a more surprising rhythm in the middle of the season, with four last more intense episodes, where the question of tone is partly settled. In its finer moments, the series assumes its precarious balance between comedy and drama and allows itself to delve a little – but never enough – into the seemingly gaping chasms that inhabit this endearing girl. Amazon having bet on Melha Bedia, we already know that there will be a season two, which we hope will be more lively, more acidic too. Often, Miskina, the poor touches on subjects – the relationship to the body, to sexuality, to spirituality – but drowns the fish fairly quickly in a few valves too expected to be enough to win the piece.

Miskina, the poor. From September 30 on Prime video.

With “Miskina, the poor”, the humorist Melha Bedia does she succeed in entering the world of the series? – Les Inrocks