Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Little Mosque on the Prairie"

I heard something about this on NPR but I thought it was a joke - but there is going to be a new show - a sitcom - on Canadian television about Muslims living in a small Canadian town.
"Little Mosque on the Prairie” ventures into new and perhaps treacherous terrain: trying to explore the funny side of being a Muslim and adapting to life in post 9/11 North America. Its creators admit to uneasiness as to whether Canadians and Americans can laugh about the daily travails of those who many consider a looming menace.

“It’s a question we ask ourselves all the time,” said Mary Darling, one of the show’s three executive producers and an American who has lived in Canada for the last decade. “If 9/11 is still too raw, it might not work,” she said.

There is the other side of that coin too — what will Muslims think? — which the show’s creators usually summarize in one long sentence that mentions the uproar prompted by Salman Rushdie as well as the Danish cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad.

This concern stems from the almost automatic presumption that “to look at Muslims in an entertaining way is going to be controversial because they will riot in the streets,” said Al Rae, one of the show’s writers, who noted that he does research by bouncing potential scenarios off cab drivers here. Or as Amaar, the young man detained in the opening airport scene, puts it sardonically, “Muslims all over the world are known for their sense of humor.”

The strongest insurance against outrage from the faithful is that “Little Mosque” is the brainchild of Zarqa Nawaz, a Canadian Muslim of Pakistani origin whose own assimilation, particularly after she left Toronto for Regina, Saskatchewan, 10 years ago, provides much of the comic fodder.

I hope the show is picked up by an American network - it sounds like it will be hilarious.


  1. Halalrious, you mean!

  2. Hi,

    You forget Theo VanGogh in the Netherlands. He directed a movie short that some Muslims felt put Islam in a bad light. He was shot eight time, his throat slashed, and a note of outrage pinned to his corpse with a knife.

    The author of the work, a muslim woman, and a member of their parliment had to go into hiding.

    Then of course there was the following mosque, school and church burnings.

    It is a risk.

  3. Well, this project was started by a Muslim, which should help to calm some outrage. I think it's worth it to try something like this - we definitely need more laughter in the world.

  4. "Little Mosque" depends of offensive stereotypes for its humour.

    Also, while at times funny, I do wonder about how "real" the situation is. I once saw a show about how the Nazis made two propaganda films about the conflict between the British and the Irish. The films, at least according to those who were interviewed who had seen them were quite good. The only problem was that the people in the movies were not Irish. What I mean by that was that the culture of the Irish portrayed in the films in no way reflected actual Irish culture as I guess the Germans who wrote, produced, and acted in the movies never took the time to get to understand the traditions and feel of the Irish people. It just wasn't important to them because in the end it had nothing to do with the Irish. It was as one commentator of the movies said "Germans talking to Germans".

    And that is kind of what I am getting with the "Little Mosque" show. In the end it isn't really about small town Saskatchewan or Muslim communities living within small town Saskatchewan. In the end what it comes down to is just Liberal Urbanite Canadians talking to Liberal Urbanite Canadians, with their political message being far more important to them than whether or not the situation portrayed reflects a real situation in the country accurately enough.

    By the way, why does "The She Mayor" remind me so much of the mayor on South Park?

  5. Well, since we here in the U.S. (at least those of us far enough away from the Canadian border that we can't get Canadian television) haven't seen it yet, I can't make any judgements on whether it's true to Muslim life in Canada. I do find your implied comparison with Nazi propaganda films a bit strange, however, since this is a commercial TV show, not a propaganda effort.

  6. Little Mosque is hilarious (or halalrious!) Yes, it is all stereotypes following the stock traditions of TV sitcoms, but they are well done, warmly showing a good bit of diversity in our Muslim community. Those of us who are not lucky enough to live in Canada can watch the entire series so far on Youtube. Alhamdulillah!

  7. Really? It's on Youtube? I'll have to take a look then.