ABC Family will not go forward with its "Alice In Arabia" pilot, a project about an American girl kidnapped by her Saudi royal family and forced to live with them.
The network released a statement and said, "The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project."
ABC Family announced a full description of the controversial pilot earlier this week:
“Alice in Arabia” is a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.
Nearly as soon as "Alice In Arabia" was announced, it was met with disapproval and backlash by Twitter users and Muslim advocacy group, The Council On American-Islamic Relations. Its leaders wrote a letter to the network and said, “As the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, we are concerned about the negative impact this program could have on the lives of ordinary Arab-American and American Muslims.”
BuzzFeed obtained an early draft of the "Alice In Arabia" script and Rega Jha wrote, "It's exactly what critics feared ... Nearly every devoutly Muslim character opposes American ideals, and vice versa. One character refers to Alice’s mixed identity as 'half Jew-loving monkey.' Abu Hamza describes America as a 'perverted world' where women are forced to 'starve and cut themselves thin and big titted.' Later, a young girl posits that Muslim women have two options: to be modern and free, or to be loved by God."
Before ABC Family killed the pilot, the network defended "Alice In Arabia" and gave a statement to HuffPost Live which said, "Pre-judging a pilot that is not even in production is irresponsible. As everyone in the industry knows, all pilots go through multiple rewrites, where story lines and characters develop, and very few get picked up to series. This situation is no different." For now, this script is going nowhere.