Mike Jaafar and his son at a Fordson HS Football game. Source: TLC
Shadia, Suehalia, and Samira Amen. Source: TLC

BY STEPHANIE COSBY, News Editor

Dearborn, Michigan made its nation-wide television debut this past Sunday on TLC’s new reality show All-American Muslim. The eight part documentary series chronicles the lives of five Lebanese-American Shia Muslim families living in the city of Dearborn.

The show looks at how Islam affects the everyday lives of the cast, as well as milestones like weddings, having children, and opening a new business. Issues such as the woman’s decision whether or not to wear the hijab, how religion impacts marriage choice, and more are discussed in roundtable-esque conversations between the narratives.

Included among the families highlighted are the Jaafars: Mike, Angela, and their four children. Mike is a deputy chief for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and Angela is an auto marketing coordinator. Jaafar told The Michigan Journal that his family was recruited for the series. Shooting lasted for 14 weeks, with six hours of filming per week.

“The weirdest part was having cameras on us or with us, specifically at work and home,” said Jaafar. The benefits, however, outweighed any potential weirdness. “In the four months of filming, we have captured wonderful memories for life,” he says. “I enjoyed every bit of it. I considered it an education.”

The series also features Fouad Zaban, the Fordson High School football coach, his wife Zaynab, and their four children. Much screen-time is devoted to how coach Zaban navigates the challenge of conducting the team’s practices during Ramadan.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the series has been a “development priority” for TLC since the end of 2010. Co-executive producer Mike Mosallam was the person who introduced Dearborn and some potential cast members to the TLC executives.

“Between their different personalities, what’s going on in their daily lives, and just this wide spectrum from how some are very devout and others experience faith a little differently, we just fell in love,” said Alon Orstein, the vice president of production and development for TLC East Coast.

“I hope it sheds light on the misconceptions and ignorance,” said Jaafar. “As I always say, peace, love, and harmony to all of the people of the world, and specifically to the people of the great US of A!”

Catch the next episode of All-American Muslim on TLC this Sunday, November 20 at 10pm. Or check out http://TLC.howstuffworks.com/tv/all-american-muslim to learn more about the featured families and to watch sneak peek videos and clips from the show.