ABC's controversial new reality series, Welcome to the Neighborhood, was abruptly canceled before its scheduled July 10 premiere after drawing fire from a diverse group of organizations.
The series follows three wealthy, conservative white families who live in an Austin, Texas, development as they choose a new neighbor to move into a house on their street. The families hope to find a match with people similar to themselves but instead must choose from a group that includes black, Hispanic, and Asian families; two gay white men with an adopted black child; a Wiccan couple; a heavily tattooed and pierced couple; and a poor white family. The prejudices of the choosing families are exposed and ultimately, according to ABC, overcome.
Civil rights groups such as the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation voiced concerns over the series, as the first few episodes depict instances of homophobia and racism without consequence. GLAAD spokesperson Damon Romine says that this might leave viewers with the impression that discrimination is "no big deal."
"Regardless of how things turn out at the end of the last show, it's dangerous to let intolerance and bigotry go unchallenged for weeks at a time," he said.
Conservatives took offense at the premise of the series as well, as demonstrated by the Family Research Council, which was worried that the "devoted Christians" would be portrayed as judgmental and intolerant.
ABC bowed to the public outcry, and on Wednesday the network released the following statement: "Our intention with Welcome to the Neighborhood was to show the transformative process that takes place when people are forced to confront preconceived notions of what makes a good neighbor, and we believe the series delivers exactly that. However, the fact that true change happens only over time made the episodic nature of this series challenging, and given the sensitivity of the subject matter in early episodes, we have decided not to air the series at this time."