Afghanistan’s Idol leaves contestant fearing for her life

Last year, the documentary Afghan Star profiled contestants on Afghanistan’s version of American Idol (watch the trailer), and a new film follows up with one them, the woman whose life was threatened by her appearance on the show.

Silencing the Song: An Afghan Fallen Star profiles Setera, who was subject to death threats for her singing and dancing, especially after her hair was accidentally exposed when she was eliminated from the competition–a show that was helping to change culture but was also controversial. (In the Kansas City Star, Aaron Barnhart reports that similar competition series “have been wildly popular with young people wherever they go, and their enthusiasm has often spilled over into the larger society,” often igniting debates.)

In the new documentary, which debuts tonight on HBO2 at 8 p.m. after an encore of Afghan Star at 6:30, “director Havana Marking revisits Setara as she deals with ever-present threats to her safety and starts a new life as a wife and mother-to-be, while continuing to nurture dreams of becoming a pop-music idol,” according to HBO. The network notes that “Setara pushed the boundaries of modesty” and “enraged traditionalists” but “was adored by many young people who admired her courage and determination to challenge the restrictions on women’s freedom in public.”

Watch the trailer:

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.