US TV network drops Filipina mail-order bride sitcom after uproar

Mail-order family was to have been based on writer-producer Jackie Clarke's experiences with her mail-order Filipina stepmother.
Mail-order family was to have been based on writer-producer Jackie Clarke's experiences with her mail-order Filipina stepmother.PHOTO: MAIL ORDER FAMILY

NEW YORK - US broadcasting network NBC has backtracked on plans to develop a comedy about an American who purchases a mail-order bride from the Philippines, amid protests from Asian Americans.

NBC said in a statement on Friday (Sept 30) that the writer and producers "have chosen not to move forward with the project at this time".

This came after a report on Wednesday (Sept 28) that NBC wanted to develop Mail Order Family - a half-hour comedy about an American widower buying a mail-order bride to raise his children - sparked immediate condemnation.

NBC was accused of trivialising human trafficking and violence against women, and several Filipino American groups said they would hold a joint protest at NBC offices on Tuesday (Oct 4).

The show was to have been based on a web series by writer-producer Jackie Clarke, who previously told public radio podcast This American Life about her experience being raised by a Filipina stepmother ordered out of a catalogue.

"My dad had decided he wanted a mail-order bride. He never hid it from his kids," Clarke said in the programme, which originally aired in 2012.

"Over plates of spaghetti he'd pass out the latest mail-order bride catalogue and tell us to pick out the ones you liked."

Women's rights group Gabriela USA, an offshoot of a Philippine women's rights coalition, launched a petition on Thursday (Sept 29) calling for the show's cancellation.

"The mail-order bride industry exploits and trafficks women who are economically disadvantaged and living in poverty," said the petition, which has since garnered over 12,800 signatures.

"The reason why Filipina women are sought after is because they are seen as subservient and domesticated," it added.

Popular Asian American blogger Jenn Fang also wrote: "Life for a trafficked person is not a 30-minute comedy. There is no laugh track or after-school moralising for a person bought and sold into marriage."