Areej Osman, placement administrator and former guest of UK-wide hosting scheme, Refugees at Home, was invited to an early screening of the first two episodes of Home, a new Channel 4 comedy series that was aired for the first time last night. Below she shares her views on the show:
‘Channel 4 sitcom Home is written and directed by Rufus Jones who also plays stepdad in the show.
The show starts in Dorking (British upper middle class neighbourhood), when Katy (Rebekah Staton), her new boyfriend Peter (Rufus Jones) and her son John (Oaklee Pendergast) arrive from holiday in France with a big surprise in their car boot, a refugee from Syria, Sami, played by Youssef Kerkour.
The reactions of the three members of the family hereafter set stepping-stones for the debate about refugees that the show invites us to explore.
‘Home’ sightsees two different point of views about refugees- acceptance presented through Katy and denial manifested by Peter’s actions. Sami arrives in a home where the stepdad is not yet fully accepted as part of the family and wades his way to fit in. In one conversation, John says to Peter: ‘you don’t like him, do you?’ (meaning Sami)
Peter: ‘Am sizing him up’
John: ‘Am sizing YOU up’
And you would hope that these conversations would open Peter’s eyes to the similarities between him and Sami which he constantly denies to see.
Katy sees our similarities as human beings, our needs and feelings, she asks Sami if he has children and connects to him on this ground, she invites him to their home.
Overall, Home could have easily been offensive and ill-received, instead it’s funny and creates a discussion about immigration and racism in a comic way.
For example, in one scene, John prepares the room for Sami to feel like his “home” country, Syria. He places an Islamic prayer mat on the floor, downloads call for prayers application and even downloads a compass that shows the direction towards Mecca. What happens next is an extraordinary and powerful twist (thanks to the great script writing and amazing skills of Kerkour), Sami tells Katy and Peter that he is not Muslim,” I am Christian” he says in an informative tone, not apologetic nor insolent. This is one of the beauties of the show, it causes a needed discomfort and makes you think again, do all refugees have to carry the same religious identity? Do they have to be Muslims? Do they have to behave in a certain way?
‘Home’ gives a room for refugees to be different, at the same time it allows us to see them as who they really are not who we think they are.’