Little Mosque on the Prairie is a remarkably novel way to show Muslims and how their religion is practiced. Set in the fictional prairie town of Mercy, Saskatchewan, Canada, you see Muslims with liberal and conservative views; how they have assimilated into the dominate society (small town Canada); and how they interact with their fellow non-Muslim neighbours who can be just as broad or narrow minded.
While Little Mosque on the Prairie tries to neither dramatise nor make political commentary, it does show through humor that Muslims and non-Muslims all have their funny idiosyncrasies and share much common ground. Through laughter, the show makes an effort to break down prejudices and hopefully foster a better understanding and tolerance between cultures.
The comedy is family-oriented, lighthearted and fun as sitcoms go. It looks like some of the characters are still developing. Am anxious to see how they grow in Seasons 2 and 3. I find Muslim feminist Rayyan Hamoudi (Sitara Hewitt), conservative Nigerian immigrant Fatima Dinssa (Arlene Duncan), divorced college economics professor Baber Siddiqui (Manoj Sood) and bigot DJ Fred Tupper (Neil Crone) to be the most well-rounded characters. Baber?s daughter, Layla Siddiqui (Aliza Vellani) is quite interesting in that she represents the average teenage Muslim girl struggling to balance her life between being a good Muslim and a regular Canadian teenager who's into music, clothes and boys.
What? You?re still not convinced it?s a good sitcom? You haven?t seen it yet? Do what I did. Watch some of the episodes on YouTube.
There were eight episodes in Season 1:
1. Little Mosque (pilot episode) -- A young lawyer - Amaar Rashid (Zaib Shaikh) - from Toronto decides to move to the prairie and become an imam for the small community of Mercy. As he arrives at his new home, the Muslim community butts heads with the locals.
2. The Barrier -- Baber decides to erect a barrier to separate men and women at the mosque. A war of words along gender lines erupts.
3. The Open House -- An open house held at the Mercy Mosque, meant to bridge gaps between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities, has unexpected consequences.
4. Swimming Up Stream -- Fatima accidentally sprains her knee and, as therapy, must take swimming. But one day her regular swimming instructor is off sick, and the substitute is a man. A Muslim woman has to cover her body if she has a male swimming instructor ? but what if he's gay?
5. The Convert -- A new Muslim convert at the mosque causes problems for the community. (This episode was nominated for a scriptwriter?s award ? Gemini Award, Canada.)
6. The Archdeacon Cometh -- The Muslim community of Mercy steps in to help when Mercy Anglican faces financial ruin.
7. Mother-in-Law -- Yasir's overbearing mother (Maria Vacratsis), visiting from Lebanon, wants him to try something new ? a second wife.
8. Playing with Fire -- A local fireman proves too hot to handle when Rayyan considers dating.
In just its first season alone, Little Mosque on the Prairie won both Canadian and international awards. Quite a feat when you take into account its subject matter and limited number of episodes in Season 1.
I bought my 2-disc DVD from Amazon.ca in Canada. I noticed the DVD set was also available at CBC Television?s website. Can?t quite phantom why Amazon.com in US does not offer it, other than through alternative sellers.
Highly recommended. Can?t wait for CBC Television to release Season 2 on DVD.