Planned U.S. show ‘Alice in Arabia’ faces Twitter backlash
A planned U.S. drama series about an American girl who is kidnapped by her extended family in Saudi Arabia is facing backlash
A planned U.S. drama series about an American girl who is kidnapped by her extended family and forced to live in Saudi Arabia is facing backlash on social media for its apparently prejudiced themes.
The network, ABC Family, has faced criticism over the plot summary for the proposed new series. The summary states that the protagonist Alice is “kidnapped” and that she “must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.”
According to ABC, the pilot was written by Brooke Eikmeier, who previously served as a Cryptologic Linguist in the Arabic language in the U.S. army. She was discharged in September 2013.
Rabia Chaudry writing for Time Magazine wrote: “The show certainly pits Americans against ‘Arabians’ (tweeters pointed out “Arabia” is not actually a place), and we can assume the ‘independent spirit and wit’ of Alice the American will prevail as triumphant over the lesser evolved Arabians. Thus the plot both bolsters the highly troublesome binary of us vs. them (Muslims being them), a factor linked to the growth of anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crimes in the U.S. since 9/11, and confirms American superiority.”
Tweeting with the hashtag #AliceInArabia, users had a variety of sour remarks about the planned series.
One Twitter user said: “…while surviving life behind the veil. The veil is not a set of prison bars. Stop. #AliceInArabia.”
Another, @aishacs, said: “My goal w/ HT #AliceInArabia is to help @ABCFamily see how the stated premise of show is offensive & in era of anti-muslim sentiment, scary.”
Ayesha Mattu tweeted: “1.6 billion Muslims, 56 countries, dozens ethnic groups, multitude legal/cultural practices. Only story you tell: #AliceInArabia @ABCFamily“
Despite the backlash, ABC Family has defended the show.
“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 wrote in an email to California radio station KPCC.