With its new reality series All-American Muslim, TLC is echoing PBS' 1970 documentary series, An American Family, in which the very real Loud family prompted a national conversation on divorce and homosexuality. TLC's show, which debuted Sunday night, follows five Muslim-American families in Dearborn, Mich., home to the nation's largest mosque. The premiere delved earnestly into the effects of the Muslim faith on these Americans' lives, focusing on the impending wedding of Shadia, "a tattoed and pierced young Muslim woman," and Jeff, her "happily clueless" Irish Catholic beau. Is this a refreshing break from the soulless world of Jersey Shore or too sincere for its own good?
This is reality TV at its best: All-American Muslim harks back to the days when it "seemed like unscripted television might be used for good," says Linda Holmes at NPR. The show isn't overly preachy, instead using a fairly neutral tone to satisfy viewers' curiosity about Muslims, especially when it comes to the illuminating wedding of Shadia and Jeff. As social commentary that still manages to entertain, All-American Muslim tells "a story that hasn't been told very often on American television."
"All-American Muslim: A look at five very different families"
It's admirable, but it's not manipulative enough to survive: This is a "kinder, gentler reality show," says Christian Toto at Big Hollywood. Perhaps too kind: It can sometimes "feel like an extended public relations video" designed to show viewers that Muslim families are normal and not to be feared. While the show is honest enough about "less flattering components of the Islamic faith," it doesn't ask the "hard-hitting questions about faith and terrorism." And it might have a hard time "competing with more salacious reality fare," unless it learns to "spark unnecessary furor to gin up our interest."
"All-American Muslim review: A kinder, gentler reality show"
This is so boring: The producers may have gone overboard in their effort to keep All-American Muslim from "becoming The Real Housewives of Dearborn," says Hank Steuver at The Washington Post. The show's stars were obviously cast "for their exemplary civic and cultural pride" rather than their "propensity to throw down or scream insults." And the result is "assiduously straightforward and careful" to a fault. All-American Muslim celebrates the unalienable right of Islamic families "to be as dull as anybody else."
"All-American Muslim: An inalienable right to be as dull as anybody else"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- 7 of the scariest spiders in existence
- 4 things NASA can teach you about a good night's sleep
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- Internet piracy isn't killing Hollywood
- How to be optimistic, according to science
- Why isn't 'Arkansas' pronounced like 'Kansas'?
- It's time for the police to rethink 'shoot-to-kill'
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
Subscribe to the Week