ABC Family Scraps Alice in Arabia Pilot Amidst Growing Controversy/Backlash

ABC Family logoIn the wake of an immediate and negative response from advocacy groups and critics, ABC Family has decided not to move forward with its just-announced drama pilot Alice in Arabia, our sister site Deadline reports.

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“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,” ABC Family said in a statement.

The pilot, announced on Monday and penned by a cryptologic linguist in the U.S. Army, follows a rebellious American teenager named Alice who gets kidnapped by her Saudi Arabian extended family following her parents’ death. Before making her escape, Alice would need to learn how to survive as a prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound.

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  1. Ana says:

    Right when I heard the pilot got picked up, my immediate thought was “Isn’t this kind of a negative stereotype of middle easterners and wouldn’t people be offended?

    Seems like I was right.

  2. Aleana says:

    I knew it will get negative reaction but the show sound interesting I was looking forward to watching

  3. desertpoet1 says:

    I thought it would take longer maybe adter the first episode but I’m glad that it has been pulled

  4. Cam says:

    Who in the hell thought this was a good idea?!

  5. Nadia says:

    I really wish these networks, and the media in the states would get it through their heads that 99,9 % of Muslims are not bomb loving lunatics. I’m a Muslim, I wear the hijab and I believe in Islam and have never been bullied, terrorized into fearing the quote on quote elder male. In fact my mother practically runs the house instead of my father, I really sometimes see my dad as the Bruce Jenner, not as whipped but kind of close. Yes! I’m allowed to watch TV, I know of stupid pop culture references. Gosh! Isn’t that surprising.

    • Hana says:

      ^I can relate to this – a lot. :)

    • asm says:

      Ick, sorry, but there are a lot of muslims that’s not like you. 99.9%, really? You must be a very good statistician, considering that where I live, most muslims don’t believe in equal rights, and that if they have power to force Islamic rule, they would, and they have. I was a muslim btw, and living in a muslim country. You’re probably a muslim living in an already peaceful country and probably ignoring all the facts about your so called “peaceful” religion that’s actually just peaceful as long as you follow their rule, like, you must be okay with criminalizing homosexuality, giving less rights to women because you know, women are weaker than men, allowing men to have more wives, allowing men to marry a girl that’s like 9 years old like the good ole prophet. No such thing as a good “muslim”. Good people that happens to be muslims does exist, but they’re like that not because of Islam. Mostly because they’re already good ppl in the beginning and probably because they already live in a good place.

      • Jamie says:

        Don’t stalk about what you don’t know.

      • ZK says:

        Im so sorry for wht you must have gone through, having to revoke your religion must not have been an easy decision so im sure must be been through or seen some pretty tough stuff. Having said that I will insist that islam is a religion of piece and I do believe I am a better person because of it. As I always remember the point that God will forgive all sins except those committed against other humans. So im a nicer person to other people because of it. And here is the kicker…Im gay and yes living in a country with it is a criminal offense to be one…but i recently came out to all my muslim friends and not even one of them had a bad reaction to it and all of them support me. Also I dont believe that islam is against homosexuality, i think its interpretted falsely. Another thing many references say that the Holy Prophet(PBUH) married Hazrat Aisha when she was 19, thers is just one reference which says 9 and everyone loves quoting that …including the pedofile islamist extremists. Away hope you will meet nicer muslims in the future. And I kind of liked the concept of this show and am sad its not getting made. I barely see any muslim characters in american series so thought it would be nice to be portrayed as anything other than a terrorist!

    • Hannah says:

      I’m sorry your mom is Kris Jenner, and you must be one of those Jenner girls. That said, being Muslim in Dearborn, Michigan and in Arabia must be two completely different experiences. Situation like the one described here do happen.

    • Hodan says:

      Nadia, preach girl. I am a Muslim woman and my mom is the one who runs our house as well.

  6. Dmav says:

    And they were surprised by this how???

  7. Riana says:

    Can we have the Lying Game back now?

  8. Temperance says:

    So, in short, religious nutjobs are running the network in absentia. Fun. I’ll be passing on ABC Family for a while… perhaps until they rediscover their mojo.

  9. dude says:

    So they’re just going to let a bunch of people who have never seen the pilot make a snap judgment and cave? Didn’t they praise the brilliance of their writer and the complexity of the story when the backlash began? I would have respected them more had they stood their ground.

  10. echox860 says:

    What’s the problem? I swear people are to easily offended these days. It’s ridiculous

    • Poppinglocs says:

      Unless you are Muslim or study Islam, you clearly can’t understand the problem.

      • Hannah says:

        It’s very easy to understand. People thought this show was going to turn out antiMuslim propaganda and stereotypes, while I think this could have become an opportunity to show Americans another culture, while employing Arabic-looking actors who wouldn’t have found much work otherwise. My guess is that Alice would have found allies and managed to survive in an hostile situation, while learning about traditions and hopefully escaping back home.

        • Hannah says:

          Instead we’re stuck with Pretty little Sluts, a never ending parade of dumb shocks and Abercrombie & Fitch models with butt-chins. Watch Aria forgive her stalker and promise him her undying love, while he tries to bed her remaining friends! Witness zoophiliac Spencer falling in love with a mono-expression half human/half lion! But these are probably the shows we deserve.

          • Ana says:

            And sluts really? You also managed to contradict your entire point with that ill-informed insult. Not only are those girls free to be with whoever the heck they want to be with, in fact most of them have been with the same guys from the very beginning so…

          • Elyse says:

            too much.

        • Ana says:

          Oh please, this is a show that’s going to be on ABC Family. Let’s not act like the storyline is actually going to be informative or even that good. Pretty Little Liars is an awful show that manages to attract a lot of audience, I agree with that. But your problem seems to be with the “abercrombie & fitch models with butt chins and zoophilia(WTH does this even happen?) and that’s what I would consider a personal issue.

        • Poppinglocs says:

          You raise good points.

        • Aeol says:

          Maybe people had a problem with the idea of a teenage girl being kidnapped and forced to conform. At first glance it doesn’t sound like quality family television.

      • Temperance says:

        Yes, being in a special group grants you special, special snowflake powers. NOT. We get it perfectly… and find your position silly.

  11. Eric says:

    I don’t really have an issue with the plot of the series. I have an issue with the name of the series. “Alice in Arabia?” Really? That’s the best you could come up with. The title alone is stupid and completely turned me off from wanting to watch.

  12. Babygate says:

    The surprise is that this network ever considered green-lighting this project.

  13. David4 says:

    I’m normally the type that goes “If you don’t like it, shut up and don’t watch it”.

    However this sounds really poor!

  14. Coal says:

    Didn’t The Wire portray a certain stereotype about black people ? Homeland didn’t portray Muslims any better. Didn’t those shows make for compelling viewing ? All I’m saying is that if a person is ignorant about other races/religions this show will not be the course of that. Ignorance is rife in this world, its been like that long before this show it shall continue long after. Remember the One Million Moms organisation we also against The Fosters being aired ? Let’s teach our kids to think for themselves and not let tv fiction shape their thinking.

  15. alex jones says:

    shame, the show sounded rather interesting.

  16. Drew says:

    I don’t think that this would have been an issue if the show were being made with an extreme view of Christianity. GCB was made. Salvation is in the works. There are others too.
    But the difference is that not many people are targeted for death because they made fun of a Christian. That happens a lot with people who comment on Muslims. Yes there are a lot of good Muslims who wouldn’t hurt a fly, but the ones who crazy tend to be really friggin crazy. Let’s not allow political correctness make us stupid about that. So maybe the network did cave quickly… But maybe they had a reason for it.

  17. Andrew Hass says:

    ABC Family scrapping the pilot was probably the right thing to do because of the controversy.However now another network now could pick it up.Also ABC Family may have had other reasons for scrapping the show and down the line they might reconsider.

  18. troll says:

    No surprise.

  19. I think this is a good idea. As an American female who grew up in Saudi Arabia I thought this was not a good idea and was probably not going to be well done. Saudi Arabia is not a horrible country like the media portrays it to be. Don’t just believe the stereotypes and your own idea about a place. Learn about it and the people, especially from their own viewpoint before you pass judgement or stereotype on a place. Unlike the brief sentence about the show, Saudi Arabia is not a place where everyone hold prisoners and things.

    • Triumph says:

      “Unlike the brief sentence about the show, Saudi Arabia is not a place where everyone hold prisoners and things.”

      So your saying only some people have prisoners. That really doesn’t make me feel better. Also in Saudi Arabia a woman can’t be outside of her home without her husband or a close male relative like a brother, so I feel fairly comfortable passing judgement on that without knowing their viewpoint.

      • Actually I have travelled outside my home and around my city by myself and I have travelled around with male companions that were not members of my family.

        And in terms of ‘not a place where everyone holds prisoners and things’. I do not know a single person who holds anyone a prisoner. But I cannot make a statement that it NEVER happens, because unfortunately, things like that happen everywhere, even here in the US.

  20. Heathers says:

    Yet it’s alright for media to offend Catholics and Christians, right?

    • Poppinglocs says:

      Well nobody calls Christians or Catholics terrorists now do they? They don’t complain about the cross being on the WTC but will complain about a mosque, nuns can wear their “religious garb” but a Muslim woman is “oppressed” if she chooses to wear a burqua or hijab, Catholics and Christians can go to airports without security harassing them.

      So yeah.

  21. Bri says:

    They say backlash, I say a show that sounded like a TV movie at best and a total crapfest at worst. Potato, potato.

  22. Mark says:

    Maybe other networks will cave. Let’s get rid of Family Guy on Fox for making fun of Christians and Jews. I don’t think they make fun of Muslims, though.

  23. Danielle says:

    Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if they changed the nationalities or something. Maybe the premise for it. It had the potential to be a good show. As it was though, yes, far too controversial. Too bad because aside from the obvious issues, it sounded good.

  24. Alice says:

    Glad that the show was cancelled as written. Buzzfeed got the pilot script… they named her grandfather after a famous Al Queda cleric- so it seems the fears that this was going to be a hamfisted attempt at representing Saudi culture by someone who was trained to consider them “the enemy” were not unfounded. ABC Family could have addressed the same issues by either a) making the protagonist a Saudi teenager living in Saudi, or b) making the protagonist an American Muslim of Saudi descent, living in America, showing first how she lives with her school, community, and family in the States, before having her voluntarily visit family in Saudi later in the series. This approach would have avoided the most problematic elements of the premise- portraying Saudi as a universal evil unknown enemy that makes Alice a victim and from which she needs to escape, and assuming that Saudi women and men themselves are unaware/unconcerned with the serious issues women face in Saudi and need an American to show them the way.

    • Hannah says:

      They need an American girl who would show them how to lie to their parents and sleep with their professors and become Pretty Little Arabs, only once they got caught they would probably lose their lives.