Beyond Bigotry: 3 TV Pilots that Were Worse than 'Alice In Arabia'
ABC Family's decision to pull the plug on Alice In Arabia was a no-brainer, and their ignorance to the show's offensive content has rattled quite a few of the TV-obsessed. The pilot script confirmed rumors of Islamophobia and harmful Muslim stereotypes, so many have wondered how a draft with such clear prejudices made it to the writer's table. Although the Alice in Arabia scandal is shocking, it's nothing new: ill-conceived pilots are scrapped all the time in TV land. From questionable to uncomfortable to shockingly ignorant, the plethora of bad unaired TV pilots is amazing. So let's talk about some of the pilots that might beat Alice at her own bigoted game. And don't worry, all of the worst pilots come from the reality genre.
All My Babies' Mamas
I'm not sure why so many of the terrible pilots seem to come from "lifestyle" networks like Oxygen, the CW, and ABC Family, but they often crop up among innocuous shows on fashion and odd couples. All My Babies' Mamas was announced as an Oxygen reality show in 2012. It depicted rapper Shawty Lo and his 11 children by 10 different women. The show promised a "daring" look at a "blended" family, but the press release's multiple promises of "feisty baby mamas" showed more stereotype than family.
Almost as soon as the show was announced, activists sprang into action, ultimately getting it cancelled before it aired. A Change.org petition garnered over 37,000 signatures. Color of Change also hosted a letter-writing campaign, where they pointed out the real-world consequences of stereotypes, like "less attention from doctors, harsher sentencing by judges, lower likelihood of being hired or admitted to school, lower odds of getting loans, and a higher likelihood of getting shot by police." Oxygen tried to respond to the well-reasoned allegations that the show simply perpetuated harmful stereotypes, but ultimately, decided that pulling the pilot would be their best option. And thank goodness they did.
Welcome to the Neighborhood
This show's concept was equal measures bigoted and ignorant, so it comes as no surprise that it was abandoned before the pilot aired. Welcome to the Neighborhood focused on the rich, white Circle C Rance in Austin, Texas. The show relocated seven families from disparate economic, ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds to a cul-de-sac in the neighborhood, then had the original, white residents eliminate families they found undesirable.
This premise offended a number of groups, since the "contestants" included a multiracial family with gay dads, an African American family, a Native American family, a Korean American family, and a Hispanic family. The gay couple ultimately "won" the show, which filmed all six episodes before pulling the plug. The show had opponents on many sides, from Focus on the Family, which objected to a same sex couple appearing in a reality show, to the National Fair Housing Alliance, which (accurately) stated that allowing a few white Republicans to decide which diverse family gets to move into their neighborhood violates federal fair housing law. FOX has never released the show to the general public, but "a few neighbors" and a handful of journalists had to witness the racist suburban housing games.
Who's Your Daddy?
When softcore porn and paternity tests collide, nothing good can come from it. In Who's Your Daddy, actress TJ Myers was tasked with finding her biological father in a room of 25 men. If she chose the right dad, Myers won $100,000. If she chose the wrong one, the man won the $100,000. Either way, the producers orchestrated a heartfelt reunion between TJ and her biological father at the end of the six episode season. There's nothing like a large cash prize to reunite a family.
This show was rife with problems from the casting call on. TJ Myers appeared in one B movie titled Seduction of Innocence, which may have been softcore porn, and has been described as "standard exploitation fare." Although FOX cancelled the show after airing the pilot, they later allowed all six episodes on Fox Reality, showing that there are no limits to what situations reality shows won't fabricate.