The skit, part of new BBC2 sketch show Revolting, imagines a Syrian outpost to the Real Housewives franchise with women who’ve moved over from the UK to join the Islamic State, and is littered with controversial jokes about suicide vests and beheadings.
“This is my sixth marriage — I’ve been widowed five times,” Housewife ‘Zaynab’ tells the camera as a bomb blast rings out.
“ ... Six times.”
Another Housewife shows off her brand new explosive-packed suicide vest to her friends, one of whom posts a picture to Instagram:
“Hashtag OMG, hashtag Jihadi Jane, hashtag death to the West, ISIS emojis!”
“Ali bought me a new chain which is eight foot long,” says another Housewife, as we see her struggling against a heavy chain attaching her to her stove.
“I can almost get outside, which is great.”
The two-minute clip has been viewed more than 10 million times and shared more than 200,000 times since being posted to the BBC2 Facebook page yesterday.
While some viewers welcomed the very politically incorrect humor on show, others felt the sketch unfairly mocked women living in fear under ISIS.
In an interview with I News, the show’s creators Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein defended the skit against its critics.
“It’s important not to pull your punches in satire. 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,” said Prowse (the pair’s previous TV show, “The Revolution Will Be Televised,” consisted of satirical pranks and sketches highlighting conservative greed).
“The target is online grooming,” said Rubinstein.
“It’s about people who are vulnerable to these kind of approaches. We’ve had the ‘White Widow’ (British-born terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite) so this is actually happening to women here.”
Meet ‘The Real Housewives of ISIS’
Controversy has erupted online after the BBC posted a comedy sketch called “The Real Housewives of ISIS” to promote its new sketch comedy series Revolting.
All four of the Real Housewives are British women who’ve been recruited online to become Jihadi brides. One shows off her new suicide vest to her friends. “Oh babe, you look gorgeous!” compliments one of the other wives before we cut to the standard reality show private confessional shot: “She looked massive. You’re gonna need a lot of Semtex to kill that one.”
The online hubbub is mostly along the lines of “this is a SERIOUS PROBLEM” and “how can you TRIVIALIZE the plight of these YOUNG GIRLS?” but show creators Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse are unrepentant. “You have to be fearless or it undermines your credibility,” said Prowse.
Of course, Americans have made fun of Jihadi brides before. In 2015, Dakota Johnson hosted Saturday Night Live and appeared in a parody of Toyota commercials: “Dad, It’s Just ISIS.”
Are the Real Housewives of ISIS funny? Offensive? Does mocking an enemy reduce its power? Or should we be more sensitive to the women exploited by radical Islam? Let us know in the comments below.