Fake Reality TV Show Strives to Help End Child Marriages in U.S.

Area 23 created 'Unseen Housewives'

Reality TV is often viewed as mindless entertainment to distract us from real-life stress. (I'm looking at you, Rock of Love! You're sorely missed.) But in an unexpected take on the genre, Area 23 uses reality-show tropes to draw attention to heavy, heartbreaking issues: Child marriages and forced marriages in the U.S.

"Unseen Housewives" promotes Unchained at Last, a non-profit that helps women and girls escape such unions.

"It's a common misperception that child marriage is a problem 'over there' in other countries," says Tim Hawkey, chief creative officer at Area 23. "It was critical for everyone to recognize that it's a human rights crisis here in America, where hundreds of thousands of girls are currently in child marriages." (In 43 states, it's legal for people under 18 to wed.)

The 3:30 video follows a quartet of teen girls in a luxury setting. They discuss being raped, beaten and having their fathers approve of their underage marriages. Actresses appear as the lead characters, each telling a true story.

Unseen Housewives | Unchained At Last

"The video was a cultural play because we needed to reach Americans who ignore and avoid unpleasant truths," Hawkey tells Muse. "So, we translated it into a form Americans can't turn away from: reality television."

"Creating a fake reality TV show that shows the reality for American child brides takes advantage of that obsession in a way we hope cannot be ignored or unseen," he adds. "Our client, Fraidy Reiss, the founder of Unchained At Last, said she wants to be put out of business and we would love to help her with that."

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