‘Mo’ Creator and Star Mo Amer Keeps the Faith on His Netflix Series

‘Mo’ Creator and Star Mo Amer Keeps the Faith on His Netflix Series

Netflix ‘s Mo at its core is a show about faith. There’s the faith Mo Amer and his family have in America’s legal system, which they hope will allow them to become citizens. But there’s also religious faith – Mo’s Islamic beliefs and his Mexican American girlfriend’s Catholicism. And the idea that everyone from any background can live in harmony. It’s also about olive oil. Mo . has a lot of it. The fictionalized Amer is very particular about it. The liquid gold has a Proustian effect that reminds him of happier times growing up in another country, before his family fled from Palestine to Kuwait and then to America after the start of the Gulf War.

What does the real Mo Amer look out for in olive oil? “I look for olive flakes. If it contains olive flakes, it’s a real deal. If it’s super clear and more yellow than dark green, I’m usually out. That stuff is what I cook with.

Faith can lead to crushing disappointment, as Amer, an immigrant or refugee from Kuwait, can attest. Mo shines in this area. It’s sometimes a joke during a particularly difficult moment, but it’s also subtle little bits such as when Mo interviews for a job as a security guard at a strip club. The owner said, without any irony, “But you’d be the first Arab.” It would be a historic hire at Dreams. It’s both funny and sad. It may take some time to understand why but simply calling a man “illegal” is a good place to start.

Mo Amer (left) as the eponymous character in his semi autobiographical Netflix comedy, Mo.

Mo Amer (left) as the eponymous character in his semi autobiographical Netflix comedy, Mo.

Courtesy of Rebecca Brenneman/Netflix

In real life, Amer deals with sadness, but he also creates a show that makes people laugh. Comedy and tragedy are often viewed as one and the same. However, combining them can lead to a mixture of water and olive oil. Amer says that the series has so many things. “Trying to unpack everything and then be like, “Whoa, is that still a comedy?” Because there is some very dark stuff there .”


Mo is Amer’s exercise in comedic catharsis. “To be so vulnerable before a camera it’s scary man.” Amer recalls a mentor telling his him that acting should be “so honest that it’s difficult to make eye contact” with him. This was the inspiration for Mo . He says that people were unable to look at him in the eyes after a scene. It’s not easy to make that comedy work.

He says that “Parsing out our emotions was probably the most difficult thing we did” when he sketches out how the show would go. Amer was very emotional throughout the entire process of creating the show. Amer starts to get choked up when he begins talking about the scene in which Mo’s mother, played by Farah Bsieso, makes oil from olives her son has brought her.

He’s also proud that his team tracked down a musical track from an old Syrian TV show called Ghawar. “I only saw my dad cry when my grandmother died and when he saw the scene from the show that featured that song. It had such an impact on my life. I have always said that I would use the song when I have my own show. It was so beautiful that my mom started to cry .”

when I showed it.

This story first appeared in a stand-alone November issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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