Following criticism and public backlash from the Asian-American community, NBC Entertainment executives have responded to concerns over "Mail Order Family," a new comedy that was reportedly being developed by the network.
“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.”
Deadline reported the news on Wednesday that NBC had put in development the half-hour comedy from "Superstore" writer and producer Jackie Clarke that "follows a widowed single father who orders a mail-order bride from the Philippines to help raise his two preteen daughters."
Responding to the concept of the show, many online raised concerns about negative stereotypes that might accompany the characters. "Mail Order Bride companies in Asia encourage the stereotypes of the subservient, docile, and exotic Asian woman who are unaware of feminism," Laura Sirikul wrote in a blog post for The Nerds Of Color. "In a series like this, it would play on stereotypes of Asians and we don’t need another show objectifying an Asian woman, especially to be married off sexually to a man she does not know."
Concerns about making light of human trafficking were also raised. "Life for a trafficked person is not a 30-minute comedy," blogger Jenn Fang wrote at Reappropriate. "There is no laugh track or after-school moralizing for a person bought and sold into marriage. After the half-hour is up, there is no curtain call, no wrap party, and no production assistant from the wardrobe department ready to help you out of your costume."
In a Change.org petition started by GABRIELA USA (a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 organizations advocating for Filipino women) the organization condemned NBC for an entertainment show that would focus on the "mail-order bride" industry in a comedy, writing that the exploitation of women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds perpetuated by the "mail order bride" industry is dangerous.
NBC News reached out to Clarke, but did not receive a response. Clarke had responded to some of the criticism on Twitter, writing that she was "hoping to make the stepmom a fully realized strong activated character."