On the Road in America reality series follows Arab students exploring the US

A new 12-episode reality series that features “young, good-looking Arabs crisscrossing America on a mission to educate themselves and the people they encounter along the way,” according to the New York Times.

On the Road in America “can currently be seen only in the Middle East, though its producers are seeking an American distributor,” the New York Times reports. It airs on MBC, a satellite network that also appears to air The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can Dance.

The show was produced by Layalina Productions, a “nonprofit (and nonpartisan)” organization whose advisers include George H. W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt, Brent Scowcroft, and Lawrence Eagleburger, according to the Times.

The show is, the paper says, “primarily intended to reintroduce America to the Arab world through the eyes of three students (from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon) and a Palestinian woman who serves both as a production assistant and translator.” But it also demonstrates “a desire to correct whatever damage has been done to America’s standing in the Middle East by the Iraq war” and “seeks to counter the image of America often conveyed to the Arab world via Hollywood: that of an arrogant, self-absorbed, bellicose nation.”

Still, the show isn’t propaganda, as it includes criticism of the US; the production company’s president, Marc C. Ginsberg, tells the Times, “we don’t want to edit the comments of the stars of these shows.” That means it includes, the paper reports, “participants’ occasional comments about the current president” and “frank discussion … about the long-frayed relations between Israel and many of its Arab neighbors.”

American Road Trip Through Arab Eyes [New York Times]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.