Critics of an upcoming reality show following a group of Armenians who live in Glendale have created an online petition and fast-growing Facebook page in an attempt to pressure an Armenian television station to cut the program before it airs next month.
Opponents have called “Glendale Life” on USArmenia TV “degrading for Armenians,” “an embarrassment,” and “tasteless” on the Facebook page. It features socialites clubbing in Hollywood, drinking, crashing cars, getting plastic surgery and lounging by a pool in its online trailer.
The page, called “Stop ‘Glendale Life’ Show,” has garnered nearly 6,000 likes in about two weeks, while the online petition on change.org has more than 1,600 signatures.
But Bagrat Sargsyan, chairman of USArmenia TV, said the show is not unlike any other reality television program, which are engineered to be “provocative and interesting.”
“Everyone has a right to express their opinion, especially the media’s freedom which can’t be threatened,” Sargsyan said. “Hopefully, this is just an emotional thing and people in time will understand the boundaries of freedom.”
The Armenian reality TV show takes place in Glendale because it has one of the largest Armenian populations outside of Armenia.
This is not the first time a reality TV show featuring a minority cast has faced backlash from others within their own community. Bravo’s “Shahs of Sunset,” which is about a group of Iranian American socialites in Los Angeles, sparked several petitions within the Persian community calling for a halt to the program when it premiered in 2012.
“Shahs of Sunset” persevered and is now in its third season.
Those who criticize “Glendale Life” say it will shine a bad light on the Armenian American community and will dishonor the 1.5 million ancestors who died at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during the Armenian Genocide from 1915 to 1918.
“This show will do nothing but slander and deprecate the memory of each and every one of the 1.5 million men, women and children who died for our heritage,” the petition states. “We are more than this. We will not be made a mockery of for their monetary gain.”
But Sargsyan said he found that statement extreme.
“The two things are not related to each other,” he said, adding that USArmenia TV is planning on airing a television series near the 100th anniversary of the genocide next April.
Still, some critics on Facebook have called for a boycott of USArmenia TV’s advertisers.
Another Facebook page called “Start.Glendale.Life,” started in reaction to the critiques, has received more than 2,400 likes in two days. When one person called for a respectful dialogue about the show, the response of the “Start.Glendale.Life” moderator was “What are u talking about, have u seen [an] Armenian wedding with no fights?”
Although the trailer is mostly in Armenian, the show is expected to be mostly in English, with some Armenian mixed in, Sargsyan said.
In addition to airing on USArmenia TV, the program — which may be weekly or multiple times a week, depending on content — is set to be syndicated worldwide, he said. So far, 14 episodes have been produced.