The groundbreaking reality show "All-American Muslim" has been canceled.
The show, which followed five Muslims families in Dearborn, Michigan will not be picked up for a second season, a TLC executive confirmed.
TLC officials said the show was canceled because of low ratings, noting that viewership dropped from 1.7 million for its first episode in November to 729,000 in January. But cast members, such as Suehaila Amen, said that 30 other shows on TLC had similar ratings and were not canceled.
"I'm certainly sad to hear the show wasn't being renewed," says Amen.
She says "All-American Muslim" sought to humanize Muslims in a way mainstream media hadn't done beforeâ¦and it made viewers look at Muslims and Arab-Americans in a new light:
"It's been an eye-opening experience," explains Amen. "To have people tell you 'I hated Muslims, and after your show I'm able to understand your community and have a new-found respect.'"
The show's creator, Mike Mosallam, agrees. He says the show's ratings dropped throughout the season, but he says that doesn't mean the show didn't succeed on a cultural level in terms of "what it taught people and what it dispelled in terms of people's perceptions. I mean those are things that no ratings will ever be able to show."
Mosallam says the show never set out to be sensational like "Jersey Shore" or "Desperate Housewives." Instead, he says it was intended "to show a quote 'normal' perspective on the moderate Muslim life ... and so in that case, maybe normalcy was not enough."
Sally Howell, who teaches History and Arab-American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, says she and others in the community were disappointed to hear the show was canceled.
Howell says "All-American Muslim" succeeded in getting "beyond the stereotypes and beyond the...emotional kind of representation" Muslim American communities often receive.
But not everyone liked the show.
The show came under fire from anti-Muslim bloggers who called for a boycott of advertisers on the show. Under pressure, a number of companies, including the home improvement store Lowe's, pulled ads from "All-American Muslim" after hearing of complaints from conservative Christians and Jews who were upset that that show did not portray Muslim Americans as extremists.
After Lowe's pulled its ads from the show, some supporters, such as 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 Lowe's to reinstate its ads, which the chain never did.
Jennifer Guerra, "TLC cancels 'All-American Muslim' after one season" Michigan Radio March 8, 2012
Niraj Warikoo, "TLC, citing low ratings, cancels controversial reality show about Muslim-Americans" Boston Herald March 8, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today