TLC's 'All-American Muslim': More Educational Than the Cast Will Admit

All American Muslim - TCA - 2011
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TLC presented its fascinating new reality series, All-American Muslim, at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour on Friday.

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The network’s cameras follow the daily lives of five Muslim-American families in Dearborn, Mich. – apparently an area where many people with Lebanese, Iraqi, and Yemeni roots call home. We learned something already.

While the panelists stress that this series isn’t meant to be an educational program, we get a feeling that watching their lives will teach us a lot about the culture of Americans who practice Islam and how they’re both similar and unique from us.

The panelists, which included married parents of four, Mike and Angela, and very different sisters Suehalia, who wears a traditional head scarf and follows prayer rituals, and tattooed Shadia, who doesn’t practice the religion like her sister and just married an Irish Catholic who’s converting to Islam, felt it was very important to stress that the show captures not just people who practice the faith, but how they resemble the average American.

“What’s interesting is I’m a fulltime mother with four kids,” Angela says. “We’re working toward our retirement and our kids’ college funds. We’re probably more relatable to most Americans [than anything else].”

In the preview clip for the show, the participants are shown attending college, a woman admits to drinking, and one man uses a mobile phone app to remind him of prayer times.

“For people who aren’t familiar to [Dearborn], I’m not from Mars,” says Mike. “It’s reality and everyday American life with a little bit of culture instilled by our parents who immigrated here.”

The panelists say their friends and family support their choice to take part in the show and seem especially proud to be part of it. “We’ve been waiting for an opportunity to show who we are,” says the iconoclastic Shadia. “Sometimes a little weirder.” 

The series premieres in Nov. on TLC.

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