Sep 302016

By Abner Galino

A firestorm has greeted a giant television network’s announcement of a comedy show series that would revolve around the story of a Filipina mail order bride.

As the news circulated about the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) giving the green light for the production of the sitcom “Mail Order Family,” Asian Americans and other concerned personalities took to twitter and other social media sites to bash the project, calling it a backward step in the promotion of diversity and false stereotyping in the entertainment business.

An online petition to stop the production was immediately started and has garnered (as of presstime) over 4,000 signatures just a few hours after the news broke out.

Nikole Cababa, deputy secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-USA), decried NBC for green-lighting a project that could potentially “make entertainment out of the suffering of the Filipino people.”

“It is not appropriate, because we all know that these women who fell into the mail order bride system were driven by low wages and poverty in the Philippines. It is a recognized form of exploitation,” Cababa pointed out.

Another leader Filipino-American leader, Hiyasmin Saturay of Migrante South Bay-Orange County, joined the call to stop NBC from pursuing the controversial project.

Saturay drew attention to the violence and even fatal consequences of the mail order bride system, citing the cases of Susana Blackwell of Seattle, Washington in 1995 and of Estelita Reeves of Texas in 1996. Both Filipinas were married to their American spouses through the mail order bride system.

“Kailangan tutulan natin ang series na ‘yan bago pa maging sitcom. Hindi tama na gamitin for entertainment ang isang form of trafficking,” Saturay added.

Saturay also expressed apprehension that the planned sitcom may also lead to false stereotyping of Filipino women, which may play along the type of a submissive, sexualized Asian female.

Filipino-American organizations are planning to stage a demonstration in front of the NBC office in Los Angeles (Universal City Plaza) on Tuesday to express their disgust over the project.

Mail Order Family is loosely based on the life of TV sitcom “Superstore” writer and producer Jackie Clarke who experienced her father ordering a mail order bride from the Philippines.

The said marriage did not work out well and Clarke was left with an unfavorable view of her Filipino stepmother – a story that was told in PBS’s This American Life months back.

But when NBC announced that it will produce the comedy series based on Clarke’s life – the script of which she would also be writing – the TV network was deluged with protests.

On Twitter, Clarke defended the project by telling a critic that the mail order bride is: “It’s just an element of the show. I’m going to create a complex character here.”

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