TLC Cancels ‘All-American Muslim’

March 29, 2012 by  


By Niraj Warikoo

bildeAll-American Muslim, the TLC reality-TV show based in Dearborn that ignited a national controversy, has been canceled and will not be back for a second season, the Free Press has learned.

Cast members said they were told by TLC the show didn’t get high enough ratings to continue, but some said they are skeptical of that claim since the show’s ratings were equal to those of many other shows.

The TV show followed the lives of five Dearborn families of Arab-American Muslims as they navigated their everyday lives negotiating their religious and American identities. From football players to police officers, the show gave a glimpse into the world of the Arab-American Muslim population of Dearborn, the highest concentration of that demographic in the U.S.
“Having the opportunity to be a part of such a groundbreaking series with TLC has been extraordinary,” Suehaila Amen, one of the cast members, told the Free Press.
“Our show helped to pave the way for the moderate Muslim voice to be heard in this nation.”

Samira Amen-Fawaz, Suehaila’s sister and another cast member on the show, said she was “so happy to have been part of a ground-breaking series.”

The TV series was the first in the U.S. centered on Muslim-Americans, and while it was widely praised by critics and religious leaders it was attacked by some who don’t like Islam.
The show came under fire from anti-Muslim bloggers who called for a boycott of advertisers on the show. The department store Lowe’s pulled ads from after reportedly hearing of complaints from conservative Christians and Jews who were upset that that show did not portray Muslim-Americans as extremists. Lowe’s said in December it pulled the ads after hearing negative complaints.
According to some conservatives, the TV show should have portrayed Muslim-Americans as radicals instead of as normal Americans.

Some conservative Muslims also did not like the show because they thought the characters were not pious enough; one woman on the show wore short skirts and wanted to open a nightclub. Other conservative Muslims complained that all of the characters on the show were Lebanese-American Shias.

But other viewers were thrilled at a series they felt was both entertaining and important. On social media sites, supporters expressed disappointment the show will not be back for a second season.
The show gave people who were unfamiliar with Muslims “a basic understanding of the culture and faith,” Amen said. “We have received an overwhelming amount of support from non-Muslim members of society.”

Amen said she’s “saddened that there will not be a Season 2.”

“We are well aware that, at the end of the day, its a business decision for any network,” she said.

After Lowe’s pulled their ads from the show, supporters like hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons helped launch a nationwide effort to back the show that drew support from a range of religious and civil rights organizations. They launched a petition drive and held protests asking Lowe’s to reinstate their ads, which the department store never did.

The idea for the show came from Mike Mosallam, a Dearborn native who’s former director of Wayne County’s film office. It featured eight episodes that followed around Dearborn residents at football practice, weddings, and inside homes.

“This show was intended…to enlighten and educate through entertainment,” Amen said.

Her brother, Bilal Amen, also a cast member, said: “The show was an amazing experience and I am honored that TLC gave us that chance…I think the first season was great. They did an amazing job…we opened up the eyes of many Americans, showing them that we are just like everyone else.”

Bilal added: “I am sad it was not picked back up, it was an important conversation that needs to happen in a country where racist comments are being considered dialogue.”

Contact Niraj Warikoo: nwarikoo@freepress.com or 313-223-4792

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