Ashley Baxstrom: Step aside, Kardashian family. “Jersey Shore”? So last season. If you totally want to be on the cutting-edge of today’s reality tv-world, you need to really venture into the fascinating unknown. Pageant moms for the under-age? Been there. Swamp people? Done that. So what’s the most out-there, the scariest, and most interesting social group in America today?
Muslims! Thanks, TLC.
In a new eight-part miniseries airing Nov. 13, “All-American Muslim” will take us “inside the rarely seen world of American Muslims to uncover a unique community struggling to balance faith and nationality in a post 9/11 world,” according to a press release. Apparently that struggle takes place in rarely-seen, unusual, Dearborn, MI.
A video preview starts by showing us how different they are – they bend over and pray on rugs! They have wild exotic weddings! – and then has clips that are more familiar while still “foreign,” like a girl rollerblading down the sidewalk while wearing a headscarf and full-length robes. Muslims: they’re just like us, only different!
The producers intentionally chose a “diverse” group of Muslims to show the variety within the belief and to challenge stereotypes, which makes sense when you consider TLC is owned by Discovery (you can browse through a slide show of the cast here). Cast members seem to look forward to the opportunity to participate in the project as well. “People have been waiting 10-plus years to show the world that we’re just like you” said one.
Is that the point of the show, then? To say that we’re all really the same? Or is it to say that we’re all different, and that’s ok? Is it unity or pluralism they hope to instill? I wonder if they’ll be doing some kind of poll among their audience to see if they change their minds about Muslims in some way, or if the only people watching are the ones who don’t have a problem to begin with. They can count on at least one viewer – I’ll be the one trying to figure out the link between what they’re saying and what they’re doing.