ABC Family cancelled plans to air a teen drama series, titled "Alice in Arabia," after Muslim advocacy groups, writers and social media users expressed concern that the series negatively depicts Muslims and Arabs.
"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 told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.
The series, which is about an American girl (named Alice) who is kidnapped by her Saudi Arabian relatives after a family tragedy, faced heavy criticism last week after ABC announced it had green-lighted the series.
"While ABC should be applauded for venturing outside its typical wheelhouse ... the very premise of the pilot is deeply problematic — not least because it carries the very real potential for perpetuating negative stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims," wrote Raya Jalabi at The Guardian.
Rega Jha at BuzzFeed, who obtained a copy of the third draft of the script, said though the script shows the series plot is different than the usual stories of Christian, Aryan-looking girls being kidnapped by Middle Easterners (the main character is part Saudi and considers herself "a good Muslim girl"), it follows the typical storyline of "sinister Arabs" kidnapping a lovely girl American girl, forcing her to live in the deseret and tormenting her with threats of marriage.
The Twitter world also errupted after ABC announced it had ordered the series.
"It's like Disney's 'Aladdin' meets 'Homeland,' both being accurate depictions of the Arab world," said one Twitter user, according to Bustle.
"We are not a learning tool for this fictional Alice: 'Oh, they aren't oppressed savages after all!'" said another user.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) were happy with ABC's decision to cancel "Alice in Arabia," per The Hollywood Reporter. "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 Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of CAIR in a statement.
"We thank all those who voiced their concerns on this issue," he said.