NBC canceled a new show called “Mail Order Family” after it provoked a serious backlash online.
The series, which Deadline reported was in development last week, is about a father who orders a mail-order bride from the Philippines after his wife passes.
It is loosely based on the life of the show’s writer and producer Jackie Clarke, whose widowed father mail-ordered a 25-year-old Filipina woman to be a stepmother for his children, according to the Washington Post.
NBC canceled the show Friday after people tweeted, blogged and started online petitions to protest it, according to NBC News.
Twitter users called out the show for making light of human trafficking and racial stereotyping of Asian women.
In a testament to the power of Twitter and the voice of the Asian-American community, the show went from development to being canceled in just three days.
On Wednesday, Deadline reported that NBC would begin developing the new comedy. By Thursday, people were calling out the show on Twitter. On Friday, NBC announced they were canceling the show altogether.
“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 told NBC News in a statement. “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.”
The show’s concept is indeed “sensitive,” as it centers human trafficking ― or forcefully transporting or harboring people for the purpose of exploitation ― and racial stereotyping of Asian women in a comedy series.
The lack of regulation in the mail-order-bride industry leaves it open to abuse, including “trafficking in persons for sex,” according to 2004 testimony from Michele Clark, director of trafficking nonprofit The Protection Project, to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
“Similar to the trafficking in persons industry, husbands tend to come from wealthy, stable economies, while brides originate from economically unstable or vulnerable environments,” Clark testified. Once the brides arrive to the new country, they are left dependent on husbands economically, culturally and legally.
While the issue of human trafficking ― which affects around 2.4 million people worldwide ― warrants media coverage and representation, Twitter users noted that the discussion probably shouldn’t come in the form of a TV comedy.
“Exploitation and violence against Filipino women is not entertainment!” wrote Irma Salvatierra Bajar of Filipina women’s organization GABRIELA USA, in a Change.org petition against the Mail Order Family show. “The mail order bride industry exploits and trafficks women who are economically disadvantaged and living in poverty… The reason why Filipina women are sought after is because they are seen as subservient and domesticated.”
Writer and producer Jackie Clarke responded to the criticism on Twitter on Thursday by tweeting: “[I was] hoping to make the stepmom a fully realized strong activated character. Only so much complexity from a press [release].”