ABC Family announced Monday it will add three new pilots to its programming: “Recovery Road,” “Unstrung” and “Alice in Arabia.” The latter has generated some backlash on Twitter for its official plot summary, which you can read below:
“Alice in Arabia” is a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil. The pilot was written by Brooke Eikmeier, who previously served in the US Army as a Cryptologic Linguist in the Arabic language, trained to support NSA missions in the Middle East. She left service in September 2013 as a rank E-4 Specialist.
Despite the pilot show not having been cast or shot yet, those speaking out against it say "Alice in Arabia" adds to negative stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims.
ABC Family sent a response to KPCC about the negative reaction "Alice in Arabia" has received:
"We hope people will wait to judge this show on its actual merits once it is filmed. The writer is an incredible storyteller and we expect Alice to be a nuanced and character driven show," a spokesperson for ABC Family said in an email.
The backlash appears to target the so-called "kidnapping" and this line: "Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil."
Using #AliceinArabia, Twitter users questioned ABC Family and Brooke Eikmeier, who wrote the show's pilot. The hashtag was started by Pakistani-American writer Aisha Saeed, according to Al Jazeera America.
Someone claiming to be Eikmeier joined Twitter Tuesday and responded to the ongoing conversation, but that account was suspended as of Tuesday afternoon and it remained unclear whether it was actually her. Here are some of the responses from that account, including one saying that Eikmeier didn't write the show's plot summary.
I didn't write the logline. I know that getting female lawyers in courtrooms is a WAY bigger deal than veiling and say so. #AliceInArabia— Brooke Eikmeier (@BrookeEikmeier) March 18, 2014
Second, "kidnapped" is from her perspective. Her family's POV is they love her and a protecting her. #AliceInArabia— Brooke Eikmeier (@BrookeEikmeier) March 18, 2014
The characters are complex, diverse and not stereotypes. It shows human range and clashes of characters as well as culture. #AliceInArabia— Brooke Eikmeier (@BrookeEikmeier) March 18, 2014
It wasn't all serious in the Twitterverse. The hashtag inspired some comic relief through humorous plot scenarios and hashtags like #SeinfeldinArabia.
What do you think? Does the plot lend to negative stereotypes, or is it too soon to say?