• Here Come the Habibs (Source: Nine) (Nine Network)Source: Nine Network
Australia’s newest sitcom Here Come the Habibs made its television debut on Channel Nine last night, pulling in a strong 1.249 million viewers – but what did the punters really think?
Genevieve Dwyer

10 Feb 2016 - 10:39 AM  UPDATED 10 Feb 2016 - 10:43 AM

When the Nine Network aired their first promo for their new ethnic comedy Here Come the Habibs in early January, the reaction was swift, with many accusing the network of resorting to racial stereotypes of Lebanese Australians for laughs.

The sitcom, co-created by former Fat Pizza stars Tahir Bilgiç and Rob Shehadie, follows the story of a Lebanese-Australian family who move from Bankstown to Vaucluse after winning the lottery, where they’re met with dismay by their snooty white upper class neighbours.

Many took to Twitter to voice concerns about the shows portrayal of and one critic, Lebanese-Australian poet and activist Candy Royalle, even launched a Change.org petition to get Nine to pull the show. She gave her thoughts here about what she hoped not to see on the program.

5 things I hope not to see on Here Come the Habibs
A first generation Lebanese-Australian woman’s non-wish list of clichés and tropes for the new sitcom, which premieres next week.

Well now the first episode has actually hit the airwaves, it seems that the program has proved a ratings success, drawing in an audience of 1.249 in Australian metropolitan areas according OzTAM preliminary ratings and receiving plenty of positive feedback on Twitter.

The program was not without its critics though, with many raising concerns about the show’s perpetuation of racial stereotypes.

Perhaps some of the strongest audience reactions so far though came directly from Lebanon where the show is yet to air, but a local current affairs program on the network OTV hosted a discussion based on the 40 second promo clip for the show.

Taking the clip to the streets, many members of the public seemed highly unimpressed.

“They have portrayed the wrong image, or have chosen a small segment of the community to portray,” one young woman said.

“The average Lebanese can speak up to five languages, show me the average Australian or American that can speak five languages. How can they say we are uncivilised?” another man said.

Of course, this reaction was not based on viewing a full episode of the show so it can’t quite be called a fair review.

For those that did sit through the show last night in Australia, one of the strongest critical reactions from audiences centre not so much on the show’s cultural stereotypes, but on its comedic ones. Many took to the Twittersphere to call out the classic fish-out-water format tired and unfunny.

Given the show's opening ratings, which exceeded Nine's hopes for an audience of 900,000, it seems that like it or not, the Habibs will probably be sticking around. 

A thousand stereotypes and zero laughs: A review of Here Come the Habibs
She’s actually seen the show now… but Candy Royalle’s opinion hasn’t really changed.
"I'm so grateful and proud": Here Come the Habibs’ Tyler De Nawi says the show is a step forward for diversity on Australian TV
The actor, who also starred in The Principal, insists that the Channel Nine show isn’t racist - it reflects how far Australia has come as a multicultural society.
Here Come the Habibs’ Kat Hoyos: “We never wanted to play these characters as caricatures”
The actress addresses the controversy surrounding the new show - and explains why it’s hard to be a non-white performer in Australia