Social Media Activism in Egyptian Television Drama: Encoding the Counter-Revolution Narrative.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication (Name of Journal)

Middle East Critique



Egyptian Ramadan TV series have explored the relationship between law and television in a number of iterations over the past few years. In 2017, the most watched production (115 million views on YouTube), Kalabsh, went one step further by examining the interaction between television broadcasting and social media in affecting the course of justice. Even though its events revolve around the framing and wrongful incrimination of a ‘good’ police officer, the dynamics suggest a not-so-subtle reference to the January 25, 2011 uprising. It portrayed social media actors as naïve agitators, outsmarted and used by those same dark networks of business and politics that they intend to expose and ultimately to unseat. This representation strengthens the counter-revolution’s narrative of the January 25 uprising as the making of some ‘Facebook kids’ [ʿiyāl bitūʿ il-face]. With Kalabsh, Egyptian TV series recalibrate the representation of the role of television broadcasting in affecting the course of justice and thus produce a new narrative that includes social media. This representation challenges as ‘optimistic’ the reading of the ‘democratic’ nature of social media by showing how its actors are even more prone to falling prey to mystifications and networks of corruption. The centrality of television broadcasting in affecting the course of justice clearly recedes in Kalabsh, but television broadcasting itself seems to regain some reputation.