ABC Family Scraps 'Alice in Arabia' Following Muslim Outcry
UPDATED: The cable network decides not to move forward with the drama pilot amid third-party concerns about the depictions of Muslims in the one-hour project.
ABC Family is not moving forward with its drama pilot Alice in Arabia.
The recently ordered pilot came under fire from Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization Council on American-Islamic Relations and after Buzzfeed reported Friday it had obtained a script for the show, which is "about an American teenage girl kidnapped by her extended royal Saudi Arabian family and forced to live with them."
CAIR said earlier this week that it had asked ABC Family to meet with leaders in the Muslim community to discuss "concerns about potential stereotyping in the pilot," and on Friday evening the network said it had nixed the pilot.
“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," an ABC Family spokesperson said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
Following ABC family's decision, CAIR expressed happiness in a statement issued early Saturday. "We welcome ABC Family channel's decision to respond to community concerns by canceling plans for a program that had the potential to promote ethnic and religious stereotyping," said CAIR executive director Hussam Ayloush. "We thank all those who voiced their concerns on this issue," citing the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Muslim Public Affairs Council as playing integral roles.
When the pilot order was announced Monday, Alice in Arabia was described as a high-stakes drama about an American girl who -- after tragedy befell her parents -- was unknowingly kidnapped by members of her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. The character was to be a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, but would find herself intrigued by her new surroundings and its people, who were to have surprisingly diverse views on the world and her situation. Alice would need to depend on her independent spirit and wit to find her way back home and survive life behind the veil.
The Alice in Arabia pilot was written by Brooke Eikmeier, a U.S. Army veteran who worked as a cryptologic linguist in the Arabic language, trained to support NSA missions in the Middle East. She concluded her military service in September 2013 as as a rank E-4 specialist.
ABC Family previously dealt with some controversy over the premise of Twisted, which centers on a man who was charged with killing his aunt when he was younger and his struggles reintegrating into society. That series moved forward and is currently wrapping up its rookie season.
ABC Family for its part will be rolling out another drama this summer revolving around a sensitive subject. Chasing Life, which debuted its first teaser Tuesday during the Pretty Little Liars finale, follows a 24-year-old woman who is diagnosed with terminal cancer just as her career and personal life takes off.