The fact that this show, premiering November 13 at 10pm/9 Central on TLC, is being produced by the same folks that bring us The Real Housewives of New York City does not bode well, but I am willing to give it a shot, especially since the action takes place in my neck of the woods, Southeastern Michigan.

The new eight-part series centers on five families in Dearborn, MI, home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans outside of the Arab world.  According to the TLC website, here are their profiles:

The Amens

Pillars in Dearborn, Mohsen and Lila have four children – Suehaila, Shadia, Bilal and Samira. The family adheres to their faith with varying degrees – ranging from conservative to liberal. Suehaila is single, wears the hijab, doesn’t drink and is active in the community. She and Bilal, also unmarried, still live with their parents. Shadia – the rebel – has tattoos, piercings and does not wear a hijab. She is also a single mom to Adam, age 11. Samira Amen-Fawaz, the youngest, is struggling to conceive with her husband, Ali Fawaz. After years of unsuccessful attempts, she is considering putting on the hijab in order to be closer to God and hopefully be blessed with a child.

The Aoudes

Newlyweds expecting their first baby, Nader and Nawal are working to strike the right balance between their traditional Muslim roots and American culture. They intend to raise their son in their own way despite the cultural opinions of family and friends. They have planned a conventional childbirth at a Detroit hospital, but are also attending childbirth classes – which is not normally done in the Arab-American Muslim community. Nader prepares to speak the Muslim call to prayer in the ear of his son immediately after his birth. It’s a call to prayer and a call to a lifetime of faith and family.

The Bazzy-Aliahmads

Nina was raised in the tight-knit and mostly Arab-American Muslim area of Dearborn, in a family where devout Muslim cultural practices are still the daily lifestyle. While Nina’s mother wears the hijab and strictly adheres to traditional cultural Muslim norms, Nina is her own person and very much walking to the “beat of her own drum.” She is married with a young son, Andre, 6. An ambitious businesswoman, Nina is determined to push past cultural barriers within her own family and the Dearborn community in order to open her own nightclub in a traditionally male-dominated and conservative landscape.

The Jaafars

Mike, a deputy chief at the sheriff’s office, and his wife Angela, an automotive marketing coordinator, are juggling their busy careers with raising their children in a modern Muslim family. They were high school sweethearts and have four children: Jenna, 10, Julia, 8, Jad, 4 and Ryan, 3. A respected power-couple, working to increase awareness and sensitivity toward American Muslims, the Jaafar family is prominent in and around Dearborn and Detroit. With their Arab-American Muslim culture deeply rooted by parents who still live in Dearborn, they struggle to find balance between family commitments and demanding careers.

The Zabans

Fouad and Zaynab are a conservative Muslim couple with four children: Jamilah, Ayah, Mohamed and Fatima. Football is a great source of pride in the Dearborn community and as the head coach of the local high school football team, Coach Zaban works hard to combine football practices during Ramadan with the Muslim faith for both himself and his players. A compromise that can be hard on his family. The two oldest Zaban daughters, age 10 and 11, wear the hijab to school, following the example set by their mother, who works as a part-time secretary.

All-American Muslim

From these simple descriptions, it seems the show will concentrate on the balance between “traditional Muslim beliefs” and the more “liberal American ways.”  Unfortunately, life is not that simple.  There are progressive Muslims and conservative “Americans.”  I hope the show will also be addressing these nuances as well.


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