Talate – The Teen Drama that Normalizes Arabic on Screen

Gili Izikowitz, Published in Ha’aretz

Ella lives with her mother and her brother Mori, who is a year and a half younger than her. They live in an area of Jaffa that isn’t well-off, which manifests in the family’s routine. Mori is on parole after committing several felonies, and instead of focusing on her own future, Ella keeps her eye on her younger brother. Dalina lives nearby. She’s the daughter of African refugees, but her official status is yet to be legalized. Her life, then, is an attempt to get through puberty in the shadow of racism as well as threats of deportation. Jasmine is the third facet of this triangle of friends. She’s the daughter of a surgeon who pushes her into excelling and studying medicine, but like her two best friends, she’s also dedicated first and foremost to their friendship and their shared love of music.

The three teens love singing so much that they started a musical ensemble called Talate (“three” in Arabic). They believe in themselves so much that they insist on auditioning for a youth talent show. But from the moment they get in the show, everything that threatens their lives as it is becomes more intense, stressful and extreme.

Talate, a new teen series created by Michal Cooper Keren and Lior Yaron, may revolve around three pretty and talented protagonists (Valerie Hamaty, Parpilov Mongosa and Lihi Mayra Toledano) who participate in a reality show, but the social and political situations it brings to the fore are just as dominant as the main premise. In the first few episodes one of the protagonists is chased by an Immigration officer, another becomes the target of racism and their friend faces the consequences of having a family member who is a criminal. It is recommended children will watch it with their parents for all of those reasons as well as the fact that it normalizes Arabic on screen.