Sep 8, 2022 - Things to Do

Netflix's "Mo" depicts quintessential Houston

Photo of actor Mo next to a poster of his new show.
Mohammed Amer attends the Netflix Mo Amer Panel in West Hollywood, Calif. Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix

Since Netflix's hit series "Mo" began streaming on Aug. 24, I may have binge-watched the show (twice…).

Catch up quick: "Mo" is a half-hour dramatic comedy created by and starring Houston comedian Mo Amer.

  • The show, filmed in Bayou City, is about the wild adventures of Mo Najjar, who's trying to provide for his Palestinian refugee family as they await asylum.
  • Teresa Ruíz, Tobe Nwigwe and Bun B also star in the show.

Why it matters: The show is a love letter to the magic of Alief (and Houston as a whole).

What they're saying: "This is the city that adopted me, that embraced me, that loved me, and I love it back. And I think the best way to do that is telling the story out of Houston," Amer said in a behind the scenes video.

Of note: Amer drew inspiration from his own life as a Kuwaiti refugee during the Gulf War.

  • But he wants the audience to know he's never had a lean addiction, per Variety.

My thought bubble: As a Muslim immigrant who also grew up in Alief, this story resonated with me so much. I felt the love Amer poured into the story.

  • Many neighborhoods are siloed within Houston, each with their own identity and cultures. But "Mo" depicts my Houston the Houston I experienced growing up.
  • The show portrays Alief, a neighborhood often shown in a bad light, right. And though "Mo" depicts the realities of hardship and crime, it focuses on the love within the diverse, immigrant community.

Details: The series gives glimpses of Houston landmarks, like the "We Love Houston" sign, Funplex, Mount Rush Hour and the plethora of shopping complexes.

Yes, and: Other quintessential Houston and Alief references included:

  • How a friend group with immigrants from various countries such as Mexico, Nigeria and Vietnam is the norm.
  • Knowing conversational Spanish.
  • The refusal to go to the hospital if you're uninsured.
  • The line around the breakfast klub and the love of Shipley's Do-Nuts.
  • The realities of the difficult immigration process and the fear of ICE.
  • Harwin's wholesale markets and the knock-off luxury products.
  • The immigrant hustle and working under the table.
  • Slabs and swangas.

The bottom line: This show doesn't feel like a study of Houston. It doesn't feel forced, but rather authentic. "Mo" is goofy, emotional, dramatic and full of Houston pride.

  • Watch the show.
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