Mo Amer’s character in the new Netflix series “Mo” has a lot going on.
Amer, an actor and comedian who grew up in Houston, plays a version of himself in the eight-episode series, which is out today. Like the real Mo, the one on TV is Palestinian, and is in the middle of a decades-long legal struggle for citizenship. Without a work visa, he has a hard time finding lawful work. His brother’s cat can’t seem to settle on a kibble she likes. And to cope, he’s started sipping lean – a mix of soda and codeine.
“The immigration process makes it very difficult for him to, you know, do things that are above board because he don’t have a work permit,” Amer said of his character. “And then you have, like, the spiritual implications of that, right: whenever you do something that you don’t want to do but have to do it out of necessity and giving away a little bit of your morals. And then you have the loss of his father, having to mourn him, being stateless and feeling less than. So this is really a story about belonging and feeling like an equal human being to the one next to you. And that’s a love letter to Houston as well.”
And making the show really feel like Houston was very important to the actor.
“There’s never been a narrative sitcom filmed out of Houston, out of Alief. Alief has been a great neighborhood in the Houston area that has been a phenomenal exporter of art, artists, music, from front of the camera to behind the camera. I think it’s just absolutely wild that it has never had a narrative sitcom,” he said. “So it was so important to me, like right out of the gate, boom, you’re in Houston. Paul Wall’s ‘The Peoples Champ’ comes on. I thought that was such a great touch. Everything was so well thought-out. And even when I would describe the show to VPs I’d be like, hey, I want it to be like an urban Western. I want the rich golf clouds to be seen. I want the blue skies, the bright sun, the hot sun. I want you to feel that, too.”