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Welcome to the Neighborhood!

We all missed a potentially great show:

“LOS ANGELES — “Welcome to the Neighborhood,” an ABC reality series that pushes hot buttons of racism and anti-homosexuality, was pulled by the network before its debut…

The six-episode show, which was to debut July 10, follows three families in Austin, Texas, who are given the chance to choose a new neighbor for a house on their street. Each family initially wants someone similar to them _ white and conservative. Instead, they must choose from families that are black, Hispanic and Asian; two gay white men who’ve adopted a black child; a couple covered in tattoos and piercings; a couple who met at the woman’s initiation as a witch; and a poor white family.”

Wow! This would’ve been great! Very rarely do we get to see the process of discrimination. Here, we have a television show that would show not only that, but how people rank minority groups. This would be required watching in every sociology class in the country. This would be the most valuable reality show ever made.

Instead, they pull the plug on it before it aired. Why? Both GLAAD and the Family Research Council opposed it:

“The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, after viewing the series, expressed strong concerns. While it ultimately carries a valuable message about diversity and acceptance, those watching the first episodes could be left thinking discrimination is “not that big a deal,” GLAAD spokesman Damon Romine said Wednesday. “Regardless of how things turn out at the end of the last show, it’s dangerous to let intolerance and bigotry go unchallenged for weeks at a time,” he said, adding that GLAAD hopes a revised version might air.

Before ABC announced its decision, the Family Research Council said it was worried evangelicals would be made to appear judgmental and foolish.”

What kind of things could they be scared of?

“In the early episodes, one man makes a crack about the number of children piling out of the Hispanic family’s car and displays of affection between the gay men provoke disgust.”

First, I’m shocked that the people who choose the “new neighbors” would sign the release forms on this show. Discrimination processes are incredibly private due to their socially sensitive nature. No one except KKK members and other extremists want to be known as racists or homophobes or sexists, etc. To actually show the intimate details of minority status ranking (which race is the lowest? are racial minorities ranked lower than sexual minorities? than religious minorities? etc.) is risky to the participants. This would have been fascinating to see.

My solution is to turn this into a two hour documentary. That way, the reasons these groups opposed the show would be moot, except for the Family Research Council. The FRC shouldn’t worry that “evangelicals” would look bad. People will see this as a microcosm of the nation’s feelings toward minorities, not just evangelicals. In general, humans are judgmental, discriminatory creatures. This show would shed light on the process, which is a rare thing indeed. Turn the show into a documentary! Show that show!

4 comments to Welcome to the Neighborhood!

  • It would’ve been interesting to watch the show; however, I’m not entirely certain that the treatment of the white Texans would’ve been particularly fair. Reality television shows are shot with a purpose in mind, and the footage used in them is edited to tell a story, not document a truth. If there’s one thing that we can learn from modern entertainment, it’s that white Christian families comprise the one group that anyone can deride with impunity, especially on “reality television,” and especially if they’re religious.

    Ultimately, the entire premise of the show is red-state baiting. Who needs to see that, if you’ve got the Daily Show?

    I’d be sure to mail my protest to the station with a Memin Pinguin stamp.

  • Joshua

    You do that.

  • Morgan

    I used to think that the networks have television reality shows mainly because they have destroyed all the creativity in California. Now, I know it’s because the media thrives on bringing out the worst in humanity. They feed off of the negativity of the public like a leech on an open wound.

    Reality shows have absolutely nothing to do with reality. These shows put people in the artificially created scenarios for the express purpose of demeaning the people involved. The “contestants” are always people that would do almost anything for money.

    I would love to say that the public will eventually cry out for them to stop, but there will always be that group that will watch anything. All we can hope for is that the sponsors of the show will finally realize that they are subsidizing human depravity and pull their fundign.

  • Joshua

    If you want to see the families who would have appeared on the show:

    http://realitytv.about.com/od/welcometotheneighborhood/ss/FamilyProfiles_8.htm