Nine's new comedy slated on Twitter

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 8 January 2016

Running a new comedy that plays on Middle Eastern stereotypes in an era when Islamic terrorism and inflamed racial tensions are never far from the headlines was always going to be a risky move.

And judging by the damning Twitter reaction to a trailer of Channel Nine's new show Here Come the Habibs, it's a decision programmers will surely be nervous about.

The comedy hasn't even aired and is already being tipped for failure in the Twittersphere, although reaction on Facebook has been more kind.

Here Come the Habibs Tweet 3

Here Come the Habibs Tweet

Several tweets have even suggested the show is racist.

Here Come the Habibs Tweet 4

in response to the Twitter backlash, a Channel Nine spokesperson told AdNews it was confident the show would be a hit.

“Social media reaction to on air teaser campaigns are always welcomed and varied; we are thrilled with Here Come the Habibs and the range of reaction we are seeing," the spokesperson said. 

"We can’t wait to bring it to the viewing public. The show is funny, heart-warming and topical. We are confident Australia will fall in love with the Habib family and their adventures.”

The six-part series, created by actor, writer and comedian Rob Shehadie (of Fat Pizza fame) rests on the premise of a Lebanese family who have just become millionaires and uproot from Western Sydney to the exclusive suburb of Vaucluse.

Next door neighbours, the O'Neills, who we are told are Eastern Suburbs' royalty, are not pleased and want them out. There's lazy ethnic stereotypes galore in the trailer, from daughter Layla's 'Lalala' screech and muscled-up son Toufik, who talks like he just left the set of Fat Pizza, to a wisecrack about dad Fou Fou having many wives (in the one-minute trailer).

The show appears to be a milder version of Fat Pizza, which broke new ground by pushing the ethnic stereotype boat out in the early 2000s.

Whether Channel Nine's first locally produced sitcom since the 1990s works in 2016 remains to be seen.

Here Come the Habibs Tweet 6

AdNews has approached Channel Nine for comment about the social media reaction.

Channel Nine isn't the only network to push out a multicultural Australian sitcom. Today, SBS is launching The Family Law on Facebook, a show about a Chinese Australian family.

You can find full highlights of programming for both networks at our coverage of Nine upfronts and SBS upfronts.

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