In a world bogged down by superhero stories, why on Earth am I suggesting to you another superhero story?
Because, much like Jessica Jones, the powers of the group of friends in The Ridge: Origins are kind of inconsequential to the plot. I mean, yes there is a mystery within the series about how exactly they got these abilities and just how many people have them. At the heart of The Ridge, the story focuses on a group of friends trying to find their place both in their community and their city.
During The Ridge: Diversity In Sci-Fi panel at Comicpalooza, the small room was treated to the first three episodes of the first season. Currently, the episodes run at most fifteen minutes and there are only four available on Amazon, who ordered the series. More are coming, we are promised and I’m really interested to see where this story goes.
The best kind of stories are the ones that leave you wanting more, right?
Series creator, writer, and one of the stars, Ali Abbas does a very tricky balancing act in his first TV show. He gives sharp and witty humor with an overreaching conspiracy. He presents realistic characters in the Bay Ridge part of Brooklyn who have to deal with suddenly getting superpowers along with the post-9/11 paranoia of being Muslim. (I won’t dare spoil things, but part of the inspiration comes from police surveillance placed on areas like Bay Ridge.) Add into it, their own personal dramas: Aneesa has an overprotective father, Isaac has recently come out as gay, Sam is kind of a pig and a reformed bully, and Laila thinks she being nice but is just kind of self-absorbed.
Aneesa (Layla Koushnoudi), Laila (Sunita Deshpande), Sam (Abraham Makany), and Isaac (Ali Abbas) are written as different levels of observant toward the Islamic faith. Most importantly, however, they aren’t utterly consumed by their faith. In fact, the only conversation about Islam comes from if someone can be “too Muslim-y”. They are just like any other twenty/thirty somethings who are trying to put their lives together when this weird event happens. They smoke pot and hooka, they play cards, they goof off at work, and they want to have their own lives. These are themes that everyone can relate to.
The first four episodes were done, according to Abbas along with Deshpande and Makany at the panel, over the course of a month. People were freezing during outdoor shoots. The budget was shoestring. A homeless man accidentally wandered onto set and exposed himself to the cast and crew. The show isn’t the most technically perfect thing in the world.
Yet, the passion and love is clear in each scene of these first four episodes. What absorbed me into the series, outside of my straight/white/male superhero fatigue (which Abbas also feels and we commiserated on it), was how this clearly was a labor of love. I prefer to watch projects with a lot of passion behind them, then something technically perfect yet ultimately soulless.
The Ridge: Origins is a super easy binge and one that I recommend highly. Of course, this is only for those who have the Prime account. More episodes will be on Prime this coming Winter and I can’t wait to see where this show goes.
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