A liveblogged review last night of the premiere of "All-American Muslim," a new TLC reality show, drew a lively crowd of viewers to the site and a long string of comments. The chat was hosted by KPCC interns Yasmin Nouh and Fareeha Molvi, both second-generation Southern Californians who grew up Muslim in the post-9/11 decade.
They set out to provide a reality check of the show, which follows five Lebanese American families living in the long-established Arab immigrant enclave of Dearborn Michigan. Among the central characters: a cop, a football coach, an aspiring nightclub owner, a young Muslim woman who likes country music and, during last night's episode, married a young man of Irish American descent.
Would the show reflect the reality of ordinary American Muslims, especially those who have come of age during this unique period in history?
The overall consensus was mixed, leaning heavily toward "not really." One complaint was that it focused on Lebanese Americans, who with other Arab Americans make up less than half the Muslim immigrants in the U.S. Others had different objections. For example, Nina, the dyed-blond and scantily dressed aspiring nightclub owner, drew some groans for portraying what some viewers considered an extreme example. Menkay wrote:
Why are all the women either total hijabi's, or the complete opposite of that (tanktops and miniskirts)? I wonder if the show producers were just not able to find a non-hijab-wearing musim girl to be in the show?
Media only portrays the Muslims that are either very far left or very right, so two extremes here. But what about the majority of Muslims who are in the middle? The muslims that dress modestly, but still call their self American AND Muslim.
The show also features some characters who might be considered typical suburban American stereotypes, like Fouad, the football coach. Anam S. wrote:
I just kind of find the entire concept of this show strange - the need to "prove" time and time again that Muslims can be patriotic. Look at how Muslims in your community are giving back to society for proof of that; neither saying things like "I love the USA" nor the clothes one wears nor the songs they listen to is going to reveal anything in terms of patriotism, IMHO.
i think it's okay to show the variety that exists in the Muslim community, but i would have liked them to do a better job depicting the "fully practicing" Muslim living in America
And Shumaila and Anam S. concluded, respectively:
it's tv so at the end of the day its just about being entertaining...not necessarily about portraying reality of what a religion is all about...and the 'characters' were chosen because they make for higher ratings not because of how well they shed light on islam...but still im totally disappointed with the show..
At the same time, would any of the other reality shows be as widely watched if every person/character in them was sitting at the church, rosary in hand, being a perfectly respectable human being all day? Just sayin' ;)