If you thought you loved the Real Housewives of Orange County, you haven’t seen nothing yet. The BBC has produced a sketch called the Real Housewives of ISIS, and its getting understandably mixed reviews.
It’s a two-minute sketch that first appeared on Facebook and suddenly garnered the attention of millions. Some of the issues that are dealt with include: what to wear when beheading, how to wear a suicide vest sexily, and how to be properly chained to a stove.
Naturally, this type of content is under criticism from some, claiming it promotes Islamophobia and disrespects the women who are actually kidnapped by ISIS. But many have come to the skit’s defense, saying that it rightly satirizes the terror organization. London journalist Sunny Hundal says, “The outrage over ‘Real Housewives of Isis’ is ridiculous—it’s our duty to satirize people who join terror groups.”
What everyone seems to be ignoring is the fact that the skit mainly pokes fun at the stupidity of the Real Housewives show, more than it does trivialize ISIS or Islam. From the two-minute clip we’ve seen, it seems heavy-handed in its making fun of the reality genre, which is why its so humorous.
The creators of the show, Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse, have said they are trying to use comedy as a vehicle for tackling extremism. By implanting a group of “orange county-type” women into the ISIS culture, we see a hilarious clash of cultures. It’s like the old Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America—Prince Akeem was hysterical because of his slow integration into American culture.
From a comedy standpoint, what is truly off-limits? Is it ISIS? Is it Islam as a whole? The moment when any group of people anoints themselves arbiters of humor, things get Orwellian and lame. No one is the ultimate authority on what is funny to the masses, it’s an individual preference.
The sketch is part of a BBC Two program called Revolting. It is a comedy series that pokes fun at just about everything. The Real Housewives of ISIS sketch is merely the tip of the iceberg, and likely a ploy for early ratings. But the millions of views on Facebook alone are evidence that it’s destined to be a huge hit.
Ironically, the BBC Two typically prides itself on “highbrow” content, not like the more mainstream BBC One. Maybe this is a foray into a different kind of station format?