The first season of TLC’s “All-American Muslim” was also its last.
The Silver Spring-based network confirmed that when it unveils its upcoming programming plans to advertisers in April, the controversially tame reality series will not be on the “Renewed” list.
Back in July, the network of “Freaky Eaters,” “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” “Extreme Couponing” and “19 Kids and Counting” announced that it would do a reality series that, TLC promised, would be a compassionate look at what it’s like to be Muslim in America.
The show followed five Arab American Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich., a mid-size industrial city that is home to the largest mosque in the United States. Cast members reported to the Detroit Free Press they’d been notified that the show would not move forward for a second season.
“Through these families and their diverse experiences, we will explore how they blend their values and traditions with everyday life in America, providing insight into their culture with care and compassion,” TLC General Manager Amy Winter said when the show was announced.
Which was just the problem. Although it was promisingly produced by Shed Media — the indie production house known for the reality series “Freaky Eaters” and “Real Housewives of New York City” — the cast of “All-American Muslim” showed a shocking propensity to not scream at recalcitrant children, brawl in bars, consume gallons of tartar sauce, steal best friends’ boyfriends or any of the other behavioral earmarks of a hit reality docu-soap.
A glimmer of hope flickered briefly when the conservative Florida Family Association condemned the show’s tameness as clever “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” That caused giant home-improvement retail chain Lowe’s to yank its ads from the series.
Overnight, the show became the darling of the media and celebrities: Jon Stewart pasted Lowe’s on “The Daily Show,” Mia Farrow and Kal Penn tweeted their support of the series, and Russell Simmons offered to buy up remaining ad time in an upcoming episode.
Things looked even better when online travel company Kayak.com scrubbed plans to buy any more ads in the show, charging TLC with not having been upfront about “the preexisting controversy surrounding race, religion and specifically the divide between the Muslim and Christian communities in Dearborn, Mich.,” when it sold time to Kayak.
Usually, this sort of kerfuffle is TV-ratings lighter fluid. But fewer than 1 million people bothered to check out the episode of “A-A M” that was telecast in the eye of that storm. The first-season finale attracted only about 700,000 viewers. This on a network used to clocking about 2 million viewers with such reality series as the kiddie-beauty-pageant horror show “Toddlers & Tiaras” and the polygamist reality series “Sister Wives.”
But “All-American Muslim” did not air in vain. Bravo has learned from TLC’s mistakes and will, this Sunday, debut the reality series “Shahs of Sunset,” from the Kardashian family’s favorite exec producer, Ryan Seacrest.