Less than a week after it was given the greenlight, amid growing protest and outrage the ABC Family drama pilot ‘Alice in Arabia’ has been rejected by the network.
In just the four days since it and two other dramas were given the go-ahead by ABC Family, the synopsis of ‘Alice in Arabia’ has sparked complaints about reinforcing Muslim and Arab-American stereotypes. The pilot has yet to air, and it looks like it never will.
An ABC Family spokesperson said Friday, “The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group that in the past challenged ‘24’ and films ‘True Lies’ and ‘Executive Decision,’ called for the network to meet with community leaders to discuss grievances and the show’s potential impact. An opinion piece online at TIME Magazine called the series “racist,” and cited a number of complaints on Twitter where #AliceInArabia became a trending hashtag.
Buzzfeed reportedly obtained a copy of a third draft of the script that was dated July 18, 2013, and stated that it reinforced fears.
As per the ABC Family press release, ‘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.”
Novice writer Brooke Eikmeier penned the pilot. She is a former U.S. army cryptologic linguist in the Arabic language that was “trained to support NSA missions in the Middle East.”
In what appears to be a post by Eikmeier on Pakistani American writer Aisha Saeed’s Facebook page that has been reposted across Twittter, the creator writes of the show: “I wrote this after learning the Arabic language and culture for years, with a lot of appreciation, sensitivity and vetting from native Saudis and Muslims. The logline is an oversimplification of a story about complex and diverse characters, all bound by love….open your minds and hearts, please.”
A Twitter account too had popped up under Eikmeier’s name in which the user looked to do some PR control, but the account has since disappeared. So too now will the show.