Can Islamic terrorism be funny?
That’s what the writers for “Revolting,” a new BBC satirical comedy show, were thinking when they cooked up a sketch about British women who had become brides of fighters for ISIS, or the Islamic State, and framed it on the “real housewives” reality-TV model that has proved popular in the U.S.
It turns out, however, not everyone thinks a six-part series about burqa-clad newlyweds taking selfies and one-upping each other’s suicide belt is a laughing matter.
“I’m mortified that the BBC had produced such a program,” wrote one Facebook user. “This is simply bad taste. The fact it is a comedy makes it even more worrying that humor should be associated with the actions of ISIS. Is this really what TV licenses are funding!?”
A Twitter user agreed: “You are utterly abhorrent BBC. You are going to joke about mass rape too or the use of children as suicide bombers or make light of your role in promoting extremism to deceived and abused women. Sick, you are truly sick in the head and morally bankrupt.”
That’s unlikely to deter Heydon Prowse and Joylon Rubinstein, writers for “Revolting” and the 2014 series “The Revolution Will Be Televised.”
“It’s important not to pull your punches in satire,” Prowse told the Sun newspaper of London. “You have to be fearless or it undermines your credibility. You can’t go after David Cameron for five years like we did and not go after Islamic State.”
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Rubinstein noted that despite the negative responses they’ve received, the target of “Real Wives if ISIS” isn’t ISIS, but the phenomenon of online grooming of British women to leave their normal lives for jihad.
“It’s about people who are vulnerable to these kind of approaches,” he explained. “We’ve had the ‘White Widow’ [British-born terror bride Samantha Lewthwaite], so this is actually happening to women here.”
In a YouTube clip for the show, one of the women asks another for fashion advice on a new suicide vest she received from her husband, only to be upstaged by another ISIS bride who enters the room wearing the same vest. In another vignette, a woman is being interviewed and says that she has been widowed five times. The sound of a distant explosion follows and she tells the interviewer, “Six times.”
The sketch’s premise doesn’t offend everyone, with one BBC Two commenter calling it “fantastic.”
“People bang on about politically incorrect humor … this is brave & funny & about time we poked fun at these morons! Even Muslims will love this!”