By Niraj Warikoo
Cast members said they were told by TLC the show didnâ€™t get high enough ratings to continue, but some said they are skeptical of that claim since the showâ€™s ratings were equal to those of many other shows.
The TV show followed the lives of five Dearborn families of Arab-American Muslims as they navigated their everyday lives negotiating their religious and American identities. From football players to police officers, the show gave a glimpse into the world of the Arab-American Muslim population of Dearborn, the highest concentration of that demographic in the U.S.
â€œHaving the opportunity to be a part of such a groundbreaking series with TLC has been extraordinary,â€ Suehaila Amen, one of the cast members, told the Free Press.
â€œOur show helped to pave the way for the moderate Muslim voice to be heard in this nation.â€
Samira Amen-Fawaz, Suehailaâ€™s sister and another cast member on the show, said she was â€œso happy to have been part of a ground-breaking series.â€
The TV series was the first in the U.S. centered on Muslim-Americans, and while it was widely praised by critics and religious leaders it was attacked by some who donâ€™t like Islam.
The show came under fire from anti-Muslim bloggers who called for a boycott of advertisers on the show. The department store Loweâ€™s pulled ads from after reportedly hearing of complaints from conservative Christians and Jews who were upset that that show did not portray Muslim-Americans as extremists. Loweâ€™s said in December it pulled the ads after hearing negative complaints.
According to some conservatives, the TV show should have portrayed Muslim-Americans as radicals instead of as normal Americans.
Some conservative Muslims also did not like the show because they thought the characters were not pious enough; one woman on the show wore short skirts and wanted to open a nightclub. Other conservative Muslims complained that all of the characters on the show were Lebanese-American Shias.
But other viewers were thrilled at a series they felt was both entertaining and important. On social media sites, supporters expressed disappointment the show will not be back for a second season.
The show gave people who were unfamiliar with Muslims â€œa basic understanding of the culture and faith,â€ Amen said. â€œWe have received an overwhelming amount of support from non-Muslim members of society.â€
Amen said sheâ€™s â€œsaddened that there will not be a Season 2.â€
â€œWe are well aware that, at the end of the day, its a business decision for any network,â€ she said.
After Loweâ€™s pulled their ads from the show, supporters like hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons helped launch a nationwide effort to back the show that drew support from a range of religious and civil rights organizations. They launched a petition drive and held protests asking Loweâ€™s to reinstate their ads, which the department store never did.
The idea for the show came from Mike Mosallam, a Dearborn native whoâ€™s former director of Wayne Countyâ€™s film office. It featured eight episodes that followed around Dearborn residents at football practice, weddings, and inside homes.
â€œThis show was intended…to enlighten and educate through entertainment,â€ Amen said.
Her brother, Bilal Amen, also a cast member, said: â€œThe show was an amazing experience and I am honored that TLC gave us that chanceâ€¦I think the first season was great. They did an amazing jobâ€¦we opened up the eyes of many Americans, showing them that we are just like everyone else.â€
Bilal added: â€œI am sad it was not picked back up, it was an important conversation that needs to happen in a country where racist comments are being considered dialogue.â€
Contact Niraj Warikoo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-223-4792