The Exchange Season 1 Review – An engaging, empowering true story

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: February 9, 2023 (Last updated: February 12, 2023)
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The Exchange Season 1 Review - An engaging, empowering true story


The Exchange is a transporting drama telling a real-life story of female empowerment in late-80s Kuwait.

This review of the Kuwaiti Netflix series The Exchange Season 1 does not contain spoilers.

If the late 80s, Kuwait, and the world of finance have something in common, it’s that they’re not exactly environments designed for women to thrive, which makes the true story told in the Kuwaiti Netflix original series The Exchange all the more remarkable.

The Exchange Season 1 review and plot summary

We’re introduced early to Farida (Rawan Mahdi) and her daughter, Jood (Ryan Dashti), who have been left high and dry in a divorce from Farida’s wealthy husband, Omar (Abdullah Bahman). Jood’s private school tuition fees represent a sizeable debt, and since Omar won’t help and Farida was left with nothing in the divorce, she needs another solution.

Farida needs a job, then. Her father tells her so. She knows she can’t afford to keep buying dresses on credit to attend fundraisers with her friend Yara (Shabnam Khan). Her cousin Munira (Mona Hussain), who drives her own convertible, represents an obviously better future. A bank clerk at the Bank of Tomorrow on the Kuwaiti Stock Exchange who is challenged rather than intimidated by being the only woman there, Munira wants to get ahead with her boss Saud Salim (Hussain Almahdi) and asks Farida to dig up some information on the shipping company Omar works for in exchange for paying off Jood’s tuition bill.

Farida gathers the information, passes most of it to Munira, and uses the rest to try and land herself a job. And away we go.

Nadia Ahmad’s show lives and dies on its unique backdrop and period, showcasing the difficulties for women in late-80s Kuwait in any field, let alone male-dominated finance. It’s a girl-boss narrative that is even more impactful than such things usually are because of the context, and the actors – particularly Mahdi as Farida – do a wonderful job of selling the complexity of self-empowerment in a culture of oppression.

Is The Exchange good?

Rather than lean on its solid idea for a premise, though, The Exchange livens it up with excellent production design and a solid pace across six episodes. While the basis in fact certainly adds something, this has all the hallmarks of a solid TV drama, providing an enticing binge-watch first and foremost with real-life details informing the story rather than defining it completely. This isn’t a documentary, and nobody would mistake it as such, but it’s a transporting and impressive drama that tells a worthwhile story with aplomb.

What did you think of the Kuwaiti Netflix series The Exchange Season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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