Teenage is a difficult period in a person’s life. They are neither adults nor kids. While their parents treat them as kids, their teachers consider them as adults. Thereupon, they undergo a disturbing crisis followed by hormonal changes. They want someone to listen, understand, and not blame them for the inevitable mistakes in this age. But, only a few are privileged in such a perspective. A fragile line is drawn around these common yet haunting teenage issues in Netflix’s Jordanian Miniseries, AlRawabi School for Girls.
At the center of its narrative, AlRawabi School for Girls tries to explore the impact of bullying in an elite all-girls high school situated in the heart of Jordan. Creator Tima Shomali subtly pinpoints the common bullying issues while also traversing into the socio-political conservatism of Jordanian society. Though the former has been visited previously, the latter forms an integral layer of the series. (Only if it would have been explored more).
AlRawabi School for Girls is the second Jordanian original series created for and by Netflix. I hope that in the future, we get to see more such stories from the Arab Land.
‘AlRawabi School for Girls’ Plot Summary
A young teenage girl, Mariam (Andria Tayeh), lives a simple and disciplined life, spending much of her time with her bestie, Dina (Yara Mustafa). However, in AlRawabi School for Girls, Mariam, and other docile students are constantly bullied by a trio gang of elite students. Layan Murad Fathi (Noor Taher), Ruqayya (Salsabiela), and Rania (Joanna Arida) never miss a chance to insult or offend other students. But due to a professional enmity between Mariam and Layan, Mariam becomes the prime target of the bully group.
The series starts as Layan bunks school and sneaks off the school bus to meet her boyfriend. While other students turn a blind eye towards her actions due to fear, Mariam reveals the information to principal Miss Faten to teach Layan a necessary lesson. Though, as soon as Layan gets to know about Mariam’s snitching, Layan and her gang confront Mariam. In anger, the bullies push Mariam on the street, and she procures severe injury on her head.
In the parents-teachers assembly, Mariam hides the facts as she does not want to further stretch the topic. Layan, in her cunning persona, takes the blame and manipulates the incident as per her own accord. The parents, Miss Faten, and other students support Layan in her tactics, and Mariam is cornered. Mariam’s mother refuses to listen or believe her plea. The new student, Noaf, who was an eyewitness to the event, keeps her mouth shut.
After suffering mental trauma and stress, Mariam takes revenge on Layan and her two minions, Ruqayya and Rania, in the most ruthless way. Mariam’s friends, Dina and new student Noaf help her in her cause of vengeance.
Events leading to a Shocking End
Mariam swore to take revenge on the bully girls one by one, and her first target was Ruqayya. Noaf and Mariam created a fake id named Tareq on Facebook. Mariam started talking to Ruqayya, who was the only one in her group without a boyfriend.
Mariam (Tareq) requested Ruqayya’s picture without a scarf at the girls’ open day charity event and sent it the school’s group chat. The scarf is the emblem of purity in their religion, and Ruqayya’s family were traditionalists. Thus, under family pressure, Ruqayya had to leave school.
The second bully, Rania, met her fate on the school trip. Noaf, Layan, and Rania broke the night curfew to meet their boyfriends in a disco near the hotel. Mariam informed Ms. Abeer about it, and Raina was caught wearing revealing clothes. She was underage for entering a nightclub, and thus, her abusive father was informed about the incident. Rania had bruises when she arrived at school after a week.
Noaf and Dina tried to convince Mariam to stop as they now thought that the water was going over the bridge. But Mariam had a scar that wasn’t going to heal so quickly. For the last act of revenge, she targeted Layan.
The last Act of Revenge
It was all fun and frolic until no one was hurt, but with Rania, things got pretty serious. It was high time. Dina and Noaf understood the gravity and were able to foresee the turn of events. They tried their best to stop Mariam. But a burning eye cannot fathom such philosophy. It demands fulfillment, and that’s what Mariam received in the end.
Layan bunked school as usual to meet her boyfriend, Laith. They went to Laith’s farmhouse, also geotagged as “Laith Bachelor Pad.” Mariam extracted the location and necessary information from Laith’s Instagram profile while stalking Layan. Later, she texted the location to Layan’s brother, Hazem, informing him about Layan’s absence from school.
Ms. Abeer unknowingly called Layan’s parents to school and told them about her constant skipping from school. Mariam and Ms. Abeer were both unaware of the upcoming tragedy. It was established earlier that Layan’s brother, Hazem, handled his father’s dirty business and thus flaunted a gun to threaten people.
When Hazem reached Laith’s farmhouse, he found Layan’s school dress drying outside. In a conservative society, a woman’s purity can either build or ruin a family’s image. Hazem thought that Layan had taken a step that would probably wreck their image, and thus he didn’t hesitate to take a shot. But whom did Hazaem kill?
‘AlRawabi School for Girls’ Ending Explained
Director Tima Shomali ended the series without revealing the earth-shattering reality of society. The camera captured Layan’s and Laith’s drying clothes outside the house when the gunshot was heard. He probably would have killed Layan or Laith or both, but that’s not the point of discussion at all. The critical message portrayed through the last trolly shot on the drying clothes underlined that clothes decide a woman’s fate in some societies. She can’t live life on her own accords, and men with guns coerce them to live a certain way. It was Ruqayya’s scarf that enraged her parents, and then it was Raina’s clothes that resulted in domestic abuse. Even with Layan, clothes acted as a prominent catalyst leading to a tragic cliffhanger.
An end shot revealed that Laith was principal Miss Faten’s son. A simple act of revenge ruined so many lives. Was it worth it in the end? Was Mariam to blame for the mess? I guess, for a person burning with vengeance, it’s hard for them to put themselves in other’s shoes and understand their condition. Both Layan and Mariam failed to understand this, and thus their actions lead to a tragic end.
In the end, Mariam had a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction because she accomplished her revenge. But at that precise moment, when she flaunted a sly smile before the screen faded out, she was unaware that her actions lead to the death of an individual. When the revelations would strike her conscience, it would either ruin her sanity or push her into a depth of despair. But if that didn’t happen, Mariam would ultimately transform into a nemesis (Layan), whom she despised the most.
AlRawabi School for Girls is a 2021 Jordanian Original Television Series created by Tima Shomali. It is streaming on Netflix.