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A form of domestic poverty tourism is taking off in the Czech Republic thanks to the surprising success of a mixed-race TV comedy, leading one travel website to offer a cheap meal of beer and pickled sausage in the rundown beer hall where the show’s male characters hang out.
This week’s episode of the series on public broadcaster Czech Television, called Most! after the gritty industrial town where it is set, was seen by 1.7 million people, more than any other program that day.
The final episode on 25 February will screen to an invited audience in the now-famous Severka pub, Echo24.cz reports.
Helped by strong performances, Most! has won praise for tackling contentious topics with humor and empathy, although some critics argue it relies on stereotyped portrayals of Roma and working-class “whites” alike.
An episode set in a largely Romani neighborhood bore this out, said David Tiser, the director of an organization that works for social inclusion through joint art projects.
The episode was “full of heavy stereotypes, stupid (never intelligent) humor,” Tiser wrote on his Facebook page, according to Romea, a magazine on Romani issues.
The main non-Roma characters developed as the show went on, but not the Roma, he wrote.
Czech Television reporter Richard Samko responded that Tiser and other critics were out of touch with reality.
“It’s simply the story of people in a small city where many people live like that, it’s really exaggerated,” he wrote.
“Whenever any problem comes up, the Rom Franta helps out,” he added.
Franta, a Rom who hangs out in Severka with three of the show’s non-Roma characters, is played by Zdenek Godla, one of a tiny handful of Roma in the Czech entertainment industry.
Other critics said a transgender woman character is also presented simplistically.
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The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.
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