Whenever I hear the words “Arabic” and “TV series” in the same sentence, the first thing that comes to mind is Maria Mercedes. For some reason, I always picture an overly-exaggerated drama in which Maria either cheats on her husband, suffers a tragic brain trauma, or both. The sad truth is that Lebanese cinema and TV have been tainted with cliché war movies, badly translated Mexican series and cheesy Turkish shows (no offence to any Mohannad fans).
This is why I couldn’t help but smile when I heard that LBC has started broadcasting a new Lebanese-made series. ”Beirut I Love You ” revolves around the lives of 5 young people, their personalities, their relationships, and how it all intertwines with their bond to Beirut. The show is written and directed by aspiring moviemakers, Cyril Aris and Mounia Akl, who founded the amateur film crew “An Orange Dog Productions” in 2009.
This recent label rose to pop-culture fame earning many international awards with two no-budget videos you can, scratch that, you HAVE TO watch on YouTube. The first, Beirut I Love You (I Love You Not) which inspired the creation of the series, depicts life in Beirut by telling the love story of Tarek and Yasmine. The second is a 3-chapter short film called Cheers to Those Who Stay that can only be described as freaking brilliant.
Another smile-inducing aspect of the TV/web series is the fact that it’s promoting all types of local talent, especially rising bands such as Mashrou’ Leila and White Trees by using their music as soundtrack.
For once, this is something that doesn’t center on the declining political situation, about which saying “been there, done that” would be a giant understatement. It’s a welcome change, and especially after the success of Shankaboot, it just might restore faith in the future of Lebanese Cinema. So, either tune into LBC every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 7:50 pm or watch the 4-minute episodes uploaded every Monday on their website www.beirutiloveu.com.
Whether it’s the eternal charm of the places we love like Hamra and Gemmayze, or the colorful characters of people like Abou Ali the Corniche coffee vendor, there’s something gripping in there that everyone will be able to relate to.