Social media uproar over cancellation of local TV show

Oum Al Darahem
AMMAN — A television show that was scheduled to air during Ramadan on Jordan TV was abruptly vetoed ahead of airing, causing a social media uproar.
اضافة اعلان
In an unexpected move, the station’s management decided to cancel a show called “Oum Al Darahem” at the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, despite having begun promoting it on social media shortly before.  The TV’s management accused the show of encouraging political turmoil through its content, producers told Jordan News.

Director of the show, Garo Arard, said, “I was extremely surprised when I heard the accusations. None of these accusations is close to the truth.”

The plot of the show revolves around a greedy village mukhtar (village chief) who takes advantage of the villagers to steal their money and force them to sell their property. After the mukhtar is exposed by the citizens, a new one is elected, and the former one revolts, attempting to reclaim the powers taken from him with all his might.

“We worked so hard on this show,” Arard said. “They took all of our hard work and just threw it away, even after promoting the show for almost 12 days straight. You can’t just promote a show and then decide it’s unsuitable for display.”

The ban enraged a large number of Jordanians who opposed the decision. Many people took to social media to defend the show and its stars, and to demand that the show broadcasts before the end of Ramadan. Some expressed their thoughts through comments on a live video aired on Facebook by Sari Alasa’ad, a lead actor in the show, in which he expressed his outrage and disappointment towards all Jordanian Television authorities that allowed this to happen.

“We were on a mission to spread light comedy in these hard times,” Sari Alasa’d told Jordan News. “They had no right to shower the show with malicious accusations.”

Alas’ad is not only a lead actor, but also the former President of Jordan Artists Union, and has appeared in nearly 50 productions. He claims that none of his other shows caused him any problems when they were broadcast, and that none of them were ever offensive. He also stressed that he “would never have a hand in anything that could harm or offensive the nation and the establishment” and that he has “the utmost respect for art and acting, and would never mix them with such malicious ideas.”

“Drama has always been about reflecting the reality of life,” he added. “You can’t take one aspect of life and interpret it in a wrong way then expect someone else to agree.” 

The show’s production began last year. It was set to air exclusively on Jordan Television until it was banned this week. “We had to work on the show during very hard and dark times in the pandemic, only to be rewarded with suspicion and financial losses,” Alas’ad said.

The show’s author, Zaki Mardini, also had something to say about the ban. He expressed himself on Facebook, writing, “We are ruled by silence.”

Despite the outrage of the cast, executives, producers, and even fans on social media, Jordanian Television has not reconsidered its decision to air the show and has not responded to a request for comment. The only information they offered to the public was that the work was rejected by two committees after the TV management provided the director with 38 comments about the show, all of which were linked to the work’s political suggestions and content.