In case you’ve missed it, ‘Real Housewives of ISIS’ is a sketch featured in the BBC2 comedy show Revolting – you can watch the first episode here. Not surprisingly, it’s provoked a good deal of debate. Many responses have been hostile, but reasons for this disapproval differ:
1) It’s demeaning to the many victims of ISIS. It could be countered that the show sits within a tradition of attacking evil – e.g. Nazism – through mockery. Perhaps a particular difficulty with Jihadi brides is the uncertain status of the women – are they victims or perpetrators or both? There’s an edgy uncertainty in the sketch – the women shift surreally between those two roles.
2) It’s Islamophobic. Here the obvious riposte would seem to be that many Muslims insist that ISIS is unislamic, a perversion of Islam, so how can it be Islamophobic to mock it? And it’s quite easy to imagine ways in which this satire could have been anti-Islam, not just anti-ISIS – e.g. through bringing in crude references to Mohamed.
3) It stereotypes Muslim women:
I can understand this point – which was if anything confirmed by some aggressive responses.
However here’s a different perspective:
Now – I’m not sure that these actors really are natural hijab wearers, or indeed have a Muslim background. But I think it’s telling that this viewer assumed they were – there’s nothing in the writing or acting which rules it out. There are many Muslim, or culturally Muslim, satires of ISIS and I didn’t feel Real Housewives of ISIS was so very different from these. Here’s a Palestinian skit, an example from Iraq, and a Danish satire on extremism and stereotypes.