A pilot for ABC Family was abruptly pulled from production this weekend after generating concern on Twitter that it was based on stereotypes of Saudi Arabia and Muslim women.
The network confirmed the cancellation in a statement Sunday, saying the Twitter debate was not the discussion it had hoped to raise.
“The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned," the statement read. "And is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project.”
No episodes of "Alice in Arabia" were ever produced. The parts hadn't yet been cast, but ABC Family's description of the show was enough to set Twitter on fire last week, giving rise to concerns that the show relied on Muslim stereotypes. The show revolved around the kidnapping of its main character —American teenager Alice — by her extended Saudi family.
Here's ABC Family's description:
“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.
That description was enough to raise concerns on Twitter that the show would increase Islamophobia and was premised on cultural stereotypes
In a statement last week, ABC had asked naysayers to give the show a chance.
Things didn't improve for the show Friday when culture site Buzzfeed claimed to have received a copy of the pilot's script, and summarized its plot line as "exactly what critics feared."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations praised ABC's decision, saying the show "had the potential to promote ethnic and religious stereotyping."
After the announcement, activists took to the social media site using the #AliceInArabia hashtag to share the news and continue the debate:
What do you think? Should ABC have pulled the show?