NORWALK, Conn. — Disney needs to clean up its act, according to Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski.
Adamowski on Friday sent a letter to ABC, which is owned by Disney to protest comments made on the comedy show American Housewife.
“The basis of the show is how the mother (played by actress Katy Mixon) tries to fit in with the Westport establishment. It portrays Westport housewives as entitled, spoiled and condescending. … Is that fun or funny? Not really, but what is not fun or funny is the downright prejudiced and often racist jokes used degrading this city, Norwalk residents and in particular Norwalk’s high school students as the brunt of their demeaning and insulting wisecracks,” Ross wrote.
Adamowski’s letter is addressed to ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey. Adamowski wrote:
I recently became aware that one of your programs, “American Housewife,” repeatedly targets students in my city of Norwalk, Connecticut. As superintendent of Norwalk Public Schools, I’m writing to let you know that the insults about Norwalk children on a national network TV show are not funny. Rather, they are pejorative, demeaning and divisive.
Ms. Dungey, are you aware that you are promoting a bias?
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. As they get ready to apply to colleges, find jobs and move out into the world, will they face questions based on the false impressions that have been promoted by your show?
While I know some of the producers of this show are supposedly from this area, you may not be familiar with our community or schools. Simply put, we are not who you seem to think we are.
Our city’s rich diversity is a key part of our strength. With almost 12,000 children, students in Norwalk Public Schools come from a wide variety of racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. More than 41% of students speak a second language at home, including Spanish, French-Creole, Greek, Polish, and Hindi. This is a vibrant, growing city, and one where people of all backgrounds get along well.
This is also a community that is united in providing an environment where all children are supported, from PreK on up. Educational opportunities in Norwalk include the state’s first early college academy, a Bank Street magnet school, a dual-language magnet school, an intra-district global studies center, health care and digital media pathways, and most recently, an International Baccalaureate diploma program.
We are nationally recognized for our marching bands and music programs. After-school clubs and sports teams offer something for every interest. As a shoreline community, swim lessons and competitive meets make our pools very popular. Our graduation rates are above the state average; we are closing the achievement gap; and our students earn admission to Ivy League colleges, military academies, community and technical schools, and public and private universities across the country. Norwalk is a wonderful place to raise a family.
Some people here have pointed to your show as yet another example of the divisive national discourse. Parents are disappointed that a network that positions itself as a leader in family friendly entertainment would stoop to insulting children in the name of comedy. I’m not sure what the rationale would be for deliberately targeting an entire community instead of creating a fictional one, but I do know it is hurtful and harmful.
I respectfully ask that you immediately cease and desist from targeting Norwalk, directly or indirectly, in the ABC program “American Housewife.” Thank you.
“The letter has also been sent to the executives who oversee comedy programming at ABC, as well as the creator and executive producers of the show,” Norwalk Public Schools Communications Director Brenda Wilcox Williams said in an email.
On Friday, there were 215 signatures on Ross’ petition, with 152 of them reportedly from Norwalk residents.
“I’m a student of Brien McMahon high school and to be seen as a terrible school is very upsetting,” one signer wrote. “Brien McMahon is one of the most diverse schools in CT and in my opinion, is by far the best. Norwalk high is equally a terrific school, so to be seen lower than this is an insult to all us. If ABC decides to reflect how the high schoolers of Norwalk is, then they should have done their research on how the schools actually are instead of creating a false perception of us.”
“The jokes are disgusting. I live in Norwalk, I am a CPA and do very well for myself. The show implies that Norwalk residents are all poor. It’s insulting and not true,” another wrote.
“This demeaning view of Norwalk borders on bullying and when it is perpetrated on a nationally accepted platform it is viewed as acceptable and condoned. This should be removed from the airwaves. There is no place for it,” Carol F. wrote.
“All the references associated with a REAL place (not fictional) are FALSE,” Irene S. wrote. “To paint a false image of an actual town this is just as good as Westport is infuriating. Norwalk is a great place to live and is not the ghetto or as trashy poor place.”
“Yes, Westport needs to stop the snobbery,” an anonymous poster wrote. “IT certainly has its own set of problems. The insidious remarks are bullying and they are an insult to my smart, classy, children and to the home we’ve know for 48 years.”
“I lived in Westport for 23 years and recently moved to Norwalk,” Janet M wrote. “I find the Westport innuendo sometimes humorous, but the attacks on Norwalk youth are horrendous. Not funny, especially the pregnant prom girls. I was horrified while watching this episode!!!”