Stop bullying us, the residents of Norwalk, Conn., have been begging ABC and its comedy series “American Housewife.”
The Wednesday night sitcom, starring “Mike & Molly” alum Katy Mixon as a wife and mother of three, is set in the wealthy town of Westport, Conn., where the “flawed” family tries to fit in with the “perfect” mommies and their offspring.
The show has made jokes about neighboring Norwalk, but Norwalk didn’t laugh.
And townsfolk really got ticked off about the show’s Halloween episode in which one of the characters dressed up as a “Norwalk Prom Girl” with a fake baby bump. The pregnant teen gag fell flat in the town.
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So now ABC is ditching the Norwalk jokes.
“As a comedy, ‘American Housewife’ isn’t intended to offend anyone,” producers announced Tuesday. “We’ve heard the concerns of the people of Norwalk and have made the decision to omit any mentions of the city from future episodes.”
Norwalk’s mayor, school superintendent and regular townsfolk had all complained about how the show treated the town. Mayor Harry Rilling asked the town to boycott the show until ABC stopped the “bullying” jokes.
The Hartford Courant didn’t like the jokes either, it wrote in an editorial after the Halloween episode.
“Ha, ha. Teen pregnancy stereotypes are so funny when you’re rich and white,” the Courtant wrote. “It’s not the first time that the ABC sitcom ‘American Housewife’ has slighted Norwalk, Connecticut’s sixth-largest city. But it really has to stop ...
“People in other parts of the nation might not know that Westport and Norwalk are actual places. Slighting Norwalk teens based on a stereotype — to say nothing of making light of teen pregnancy — is offensive.”
Steven Adamowski, superintendent of Norwalk’s public schools, called the jokes a form of bullying in a letter he wrote to ABC Entertainment Group president Channing Dungey and other ABC execs.
“Ms. Dungey, are you aware that you are promoting a bias?” he wrote. “In Norwalk, we teach our children from a young age that bullying in any form is not acceptable. Yet our high school students in particular now find themselves the target of stereotypes and prejudices, on a TV network owned by Disney.”
An outraged citizen, Andy Ross, created the website stoptheinsults.com to petition network owner Disney to apologize. He was happy with the show’s decision to stop the jokes.
“I’m just really proud of the city administration and the school system and the support that we got from the media promoting this,” Ross told The Hour newspaper in Norwalk.
“It’s just the right thing to do. It was the wrong thing to do on their part and it was the right thing to stop it. I just hope that this is a lesson learned for them to not do the same thing in the future.”