THE SHOW "All-American Muslim"
REASON TO WATCH Documentary series that looks at the private lives of American Muslims.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT TLC follows a group of people from Dearborn, Mich. -- home to the largest community of Muslims in the United States. They include Shadia Amen-McDermott and Jeff McDermott (he converts to Islam before they marry); Nader and Nawal Aoude, who are expecting their first child; Fouad Zaban, head coach of the Fordson High football team, which largely comprises Muslims; Mike and Angela Jaafar (deputy police chief, and consultant, respectively); Nina Bazzy, an entrepreneur; and Samira Amen-Fawaz and Ali Fawaz, struggling with fertility issues. One of Zaban's issues, for example -- how does a team practice during Ramadan, when a Muslim must fast from sunrise to sunset? You practice in the middle of the night.
MY SAY With heart affixed to sleeve and intentions about as noble as they could possibly be for a TLC reality show, "All-American Muslim" sets out to tell us that All-American Muslims are people too -- with the same gripes, worries, joys, miseries and pleasures as everyone else. American Muslims get married, worry about their kids and wonder when the check will arrive. In fact, it's all so banal that you almost wonder why TLC would bother in the first place -- except to prove a point that probably still needs proving.
The network claims it has already received a vast amount of hate mail concerning this series, which, of course, proves that bigotry and ignorance remain alive and well. But there's a gulf between "proving a point" and "making a riveting TV program," and it's not always clear that "All-American Muslim" entirely breaches that gulf. These people do seem like good decent taxpaying Americans and it's hard to imagine what a viewer would expect otherwise -- raving would-be terrorists? Of course not, which is the whole point: Bigotry and racial stereotyping are unnecessary evils and sometimes it takes a TV series to help blast them to hell. Ruled by utter ordinariness, that's a job for "All-American Muslim."
BOTTOM LINE Noble intentions meet nice people.