Monday, March 10, 2008

Little Mosque vs. Aliens

Before Aliens in America (final pic in this post) there was Little Mosque On The Prairie (cast pic on bottom left). In fact, I just finished watching the last few episodes of Season Two of this Canadian sitcom. While it still has the feel of a Canadian comedy, it has definitely improved from Season One and I find myself looking forward to Season Three in the fall. The show is about Muslims living in a rural community in Canada. It follows a young imam from Toronto who trades life as a lawyer to go the religious route in a small town. It deals with how the Muslims and the rest of the community interact. When the show started I watched the first few episodes because I really liked the concept of the show. I'm all for sending a message, etc. I also believe that, as a practising Christian, I would identify with some of the issues young Muslims face as I am also bound by rules and commandments. Plus, the creator of the show went to my uni.

I found the show to be ok, not very funny but no worse than some other sitcoms on TV. As I mentioned before, it had a distint Canadian feel to me, much like Corner Gas, except with Little Mosque... I actually got the jokes. I am glad that the show at least tries to show all the different types of Muslims, like the immigrants, the very traditional, the moderate, the converted, Canadian, etc. Anyways, the show didn't garner my attention enough for it to be must-see TV so I missed quite a few episodes. However, this past Christmas it was heavily advertised as having two episodes on one night for the holiday season and I started watching it again. I just caught up completely and I am impressed. It's still not the funniest thing out there but it's gotten much better. I was glad to find out that as of this season the show was being broadcast in over 80 countries including some in French-speaking Africa, the Middle East (such as Gaza) and several European countries (Finland, Belgium, Netherlands, et al).

I still hear people say insensitive things about Muslims, even in Toronto with all its diversity. Heck, I'm sure I have some misconceptions about Islam too and I sure don't know a lot about the religion. Little Mosque... clears up some misconceptions and also serves to inform. Dare I say that I've learnt some things about Islam from watching this show. I mean, I honestly didn't know that, in Islam, it is forbidden for women to dance in front of or with men who are not their husbands. Nonetheless, I think the main point of the show is not to highlight differences but to show that regardless of religion, we are all the same. Thus, there are a lot of everyday sitcom situations that are explored.

I know there was hope that Little Mosque... would get picked up in the US but alas they had to come up with their own series and I'm sure they'll talk about Aliens in America like it is a completely original idea. There are a few differences but the premise of a Muslim integrating into North American life and the social message that the show sends are the same. However, with Aliens... being an American show, of course, the main Muslim is not American because it would be too much for him to be Muslim, brown AND American. But I guess I should be commending them. Baby steps are always good. Actually, I quite like Aliens... I think it is funny. And hey, it is filmed in Vancouver!

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