Monday, July 04, 2005

It's not Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood & it won't be airing on ABC anytime soon

Pandagonists wil be disappointed that, while any bit o' tripe can make it onto ABC's initial line up, it may be pulled prior to airing if the network realizes it has more than crossed the line. ABC has decided to pull "Welcome to the Neighborhood" due to concerns voiced by liberals and conservatives alike. The premise of the show is that 3 white families in a "comfortable" Austin, TX cul-de-sac get to violate housing laws by deciding who gets to move into a now vacant fourth home that competing families would not otherwise be able to afford. The white families are faced with a variety of folks that don't meet their definition of the "right" kind of family and include 1 black, 1 Hispanic & 1 Asian family, as well as: two gay white men who've adopted a black boy; a couple covered in tattoos and piercings; a Wiccan couple; and a white family with a stripper mom.
The idea is to see preconceptions, even prejudices, break down as the white homeowners get to know the competitors as people instead of stereotypes.


Within the first two episodes, one man made a crack about the number of children piling out of the Hispanic family's car. The citizenry of the business-owning Asian family was questioned and displays of affection between the gay men were met with disgust.

In addition to the traditional liberal complaints about using minorities to educate ignorant white folks that people that are different to them are people and the degradation of having to, as Jesse called it "impress whitey", the Family Research Council objected to the program because it might give the public the impression that conservative Christians are overly judgmental buffoons. ABC was blind-sided by the reaction
"I didn't think that people would be this nervous," Andrea Wong, head of alternative programming at ABC, said before Wednesday's decision to ditch the show. "Because I really think it's such a positive show and such a good thing to put on TV and cause viewers to look at themselves, I'm surprised by the negative reaction to it."


"You only sort of get half the story in watching the first two episodes," Blumenfield said before the cancellation. "You see the harshness, the entrenched points of view. These things kind of melt away as the humanity comes out. It was astonishing to watch and I think everyone felt very positive at the end."

The progression was telegraphed by the tattooed Sheets family, the most instantly reviled by the homeowners. Yet the Sheets quickly bonded with the neighbors when they realize they're all Republicans, and one couple came to see them as versions of themselves a decade earlier.

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