All-American Muslim is determined to assure its audience that Muslims are ordinary, nonextremist citizens — unlike, say, other inhabitants of TLC (see: Toddlers & Tiaras). That such a need even exists suggests a problem that the show is disinclined to address. This series gives us five families living in Dearborn, Mich., which has a large Arab-American population. One story line designed to hook TLC’s regular viewers follows Shadia, a tattooed and pierced young Muslim woman (“I’m a redneck at heart”) who’s preparing to marry a nice, happily clueless Roman Catholic young man named Jeff who converts to Islam to please her family. And the person everyone, both viewers and participants alike, is meant to feel most ambivalent about is dyed-blond Nina Bazzy, a wedding planner who wants to start up her own nightclub, a business venture met with condescension and disapproval by her fellow Muslims.
These “characters” are all reasonably appealing, either charming or entertainingly irritating in the tradition of reality TV, though the show is edited at a snail’s pace. All-American Muslim centers on explaining customs and beliefs, and how the people the producers have selected either follow or ignore their religion’s dictums. You get the feeling that to address directly the fears that have arisen about some all-American Muslims in the post-9/11 era would mar the mostly positive vibe this series strives to send out. B