Monday, October 3, 2016

Disaster averted; NBC pulls plug on 'Mail Order Bride' sitcom

SOMEBODY with sense over at NBC finally got the message and killed a prospective television series that demeaned Filipinos and made light of human trafficking and the so-called mail-order bridge business before it aired a single episode. Thank goodness!
Responding to an uproar on social media over its plans to produce a comedy about a Filipino mail order bride, NBC has announced it's pulling the plug on the show.

The show titled Mail Order Family was loosely based on the true life story of creator Jackie Clarke’s own father who bought a mail order bride from the Philippines to raise his two preteen daughters. The couple would later get divorced after discovering he had another secret family in the Philippines.
"We purchased the pitch with the understanding that it would tell the creator's real-life experience of being raised by a strong Filipina stepmother after the loss of her own mother," an NBC spokesperson said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. "The writer and producers have taken the sensitivity to the initial concept to heart and have chosen not to move forward with the project at this time."
Mail Order Family received the green light by NBC last Wednesday (Sept. 28) and two days of a social media backlash forced NBC to reconsider its decision.
A planned protest outside NBC Universal in Los Angeles which had been scheduled for October 4 by Nafcon SoCal has been cancelled.
In a commentary in AsAmNews, staff writer Zara Zhi wrote:

"Despite the depressing nature of Clarke’s family history, it is being made into a 'family friendly' sitcom by a major television network. Not only does the show encourage racist and sexist Asian stereotypes, it also normalizes an industry that violates the human rights of women and children."

Human trafficking is no laughing matter. Many of the men who order brides from undeveloped countries are exploiting the situation of destitute and desperate women.

While the women are seeking financial security, the men who purchase them are often seeking obedient, subservient wives.
A petition from GABRIELA-USA, an advocacy group for Filipina women, protesting the show garnered over 11,000 signatures in less than two days.
RELATED: Faces of human trafficking may look familiar
"Exploitation and violence against Filipino women is not entertainment!" the petition reads. "The mail order bride industry in the Philippines is rooted in historical U.S. colonial occupation of the Philippines, feudal-patriarchal view of Filipinas, and current neo-colonial economic policies that have impoverished the Filipino people." 
"Many mail order brides are victims of human trafficking as they are forced into sex slavery and domestic servitude. Mail order-brides are vulnerable to violence because of the fundamentally unequal nature and imbalance of power where money is exchanged for an arranged marriage. Many mail-order brides become vulnerable to violence because they may be financially dependent on their husband, are isolated in a foreign country, and husbands can easily threaten them with deportation."

The petition went on to list the names of "mail order brides" who were murdered or became victims of abuse by their American husbands.
Asian American Advancing Justice said “NBC’s announcement of a new show in production calledMail Order Family is a leap backward in the depiction of Asians and Asian Americans on television. As one of the few television shows either on air or in production to feature Asian Americans, it is an outrage that NBC has chosen to address the plight of mail-order brides and human trafficking as a family comedy.

“Instead of a thought-provoking documentary, drama, or real-life program about the exploitative nature of the mail-order bride industry, Mail Order Family trivializes the predicament of women who are bought and sold into the sex slave trade or into abusive relationships with men they’ve often never met.”
18 Million Rising also chimed in with the hashtag #CancelMailOrderFamily.

“Human trafficking and the exploitation of Asian women is no joke,” the group said. “It’s a violent, racist system that exploits vulnerable, predominantly Asian women. There are over 36 million victims of human trafficking worldwide and nearly two thirds of that number are from Asia. The fact that millions of Asian women and adults are forced into bonded labor, sex trafficking, and slave like conditions is not fodder for a comedy sitcom.”

Mail Order Family, was to be produced by the Superstore team including writer-producer Jackie Clarke, director-executive producer Ruben Fleischer and executive producer David Bernad. Universal TV was the studio. 
(Views from the Edge contributed to this report)