Little Mosque on the Prairie

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Little Mosque on the Prairie TV Poster Image
Funny ensemble comedy plays with Muslim stereotypes.

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Positive Messages

This show's humor is rooted in stereotyping, both of the Muslim characters and of their neighbors' (and the general public's) reactions to them. It's all done in good fun, but it points out many of the assumptions that exist on both sides of the religious and cultural divide. Even so, quips about being mistaken for a terrorist may strike a nerve, given modern tensions worldwide. The good news is that the citizens always manages to overcome their differences and band together for causes and issues that unite, rather than divide, them. Themes include communication and empathy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All the characters are well-meaning, but their priorities vary greatly. Some have very conservative values (with or without religious influence); others embrace progressive changes in gender relations and more relaxed cultural expectations. These differences are obvious between differing communities of faith as well as among the different generations.

Violence
Sex

Nothing physical, but plenty of innuendo. Knowing glances between a husband and wife hint at sex. A woman pinches a man's butt, and he looks longingly at hers. The subject of a teen's first menstrual cycle is central to an episode.

Language

"Hell," "ass," and "suck."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Little Mosque on the Prairie is a Canadian sitcom about the relationships between Muslims and their non-Muslim neighbors in a small Saskatchewan town. It's a high-quality comedy series with excellent casting and a lot of wit, and colorful personalities run the gamut from young progressives to more seasoned traditionalists. The overarching message celebrates people overcoming differences and finding common ground (or at the very least reaching compromises if the first option isn't attainable), but it does so through a lot of stereotyping on both sides of the cultural and gender divide. Given current global concerns, offhand remarks about Muslim terrorism and white neighbors' rush to judgment about the characters' intentions should inspire follow-up discussions if your tweens and teens do watch. Expect some mild sexual innuendo but little else in the way of concerning content.

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What's the story?

Set in the fictional small Saskatchewan town of Mercy, LITTLE MOSQUE ON THE PRAIRIE chronicles the goings-on between the predominantly white population and their neighboring Muslim community members. Central to the story is Yasir (Carlo Rota), an upstanding contractor whose rented office space in the community's Anglican church doubles as the town's mosque. His wife, Sarah (Sheila McCarthy), a convert and casual Muslim, works for longtime friend Mayor Popowicz (Debra McGrath), often serving as a liaison between the mosque's members and the local government establishment. Their daughter, Rayyan (Sitara Hewitt), is the local doctor and a progressive thinker, in sharp contrast to traditionalists such as Fatima (Arlene Duncan) and Baber (Manoj Sood). Rounding out the cast are Amaar (Zaib Shaikh), the attractive young imam who finds small-town life vastly different from his Toronto upbringing, and Reverend Magee (Derek McGrath), the kindly minister who's comfortable breaking the rules of the Anglican hierarchy to accommodate his Muslim neighbors.

Is it any good?

This delightfully lighthearted Canadian series is ensemble comedy at its best. No character is one-dimensional, which makes everyone's interactions both hilarious and filled with surprises and their relationships remarkably relatable. The characters are appealingly, unapologetically human, prone to disagreements and overreactions and even changes of opinion as time goes by and life experiences affect them. Even though it's done with humor, there's so much validity in how the show presents the ups and downs of real life that it's easy to imagine similar stories playing out in just about any community.

Little Mosque on the Prairie does an exceptional job toying with benign stereotypes and having fun with personality conflicts between different genders, generations, and especially cultures. On its own, it's a hilarious commentary on interpersonal relationships and the woes of conflict resolution. But viewed through the lens of modern issues, its seemingly innocent jabs at matters such as terrorism and racial profiling ("What's the charge? Flying while Muslim?" Amaar asks when he's detained at the airport, for instance) can strike a nerve. Adults can differentiate between the humor and the real-life issues that inspire it, but kids and tweens may find the line a little grayer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how appropriate this kind of humor is in today's global climate. Can comedy like Little Mosque on the Prairie perpetrate prejudice, or is it obvious to everyone that it's done in good fun? What stereotypes exist among the Muslim characters? Among the others?

  • Do you find yourself aligning with one character in particular? How do your values relate? How do you work things out when your ideals conflict with someone else's?

  • Do you think this show would be well-received in other cultures? How do a person's experiences shape his or her belief system? Why is faith such a hot-button issue historically?

  • How does Little Mosque on the Prairie promote communication and empathy? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

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