Thursday, January 04, 2007

CBC sitcom 'Little Mosque on the prairie'" parallels Ukrainian immigrant experience of a century ago

I wonder if the CBC's upcoming sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie will go the same way as the TV adaptation of the hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was pretty obvious from the first TV episode that it wouldn't fly. The creator of the movie (and the play it was based on) lost control to maintream sitcom writers who just didn't get what made the movie so popular. The characters and situations in the Mosque sitcom are similarly stereotypical, and from a mainstream perspective, already.

But, as we're wont to say in radioland, only time will tell. The CBC is (quite understandably) excited about the buzz surrounding the sitcom's upcoming debut on Tuesday, Jan. 9 ...

The show, a comedy about Muslims trying to interact with their small-town neighbours in a fictional Canadian prairie town called Mercy, has been written up in the New York Times and the Houston Chronicle, with CNN and Stephen Colbert, the fake late-night talk-show host, also taking notice.

... The CBC is so pumped by the attention the show started getting - largely on the strength of its title and premise - that it decided to take advantage of the buzz and premiere the show in January instead of waiting until next fall.

There are a couple of clips at the show's site here. One of them is about the imam, on his way to his mosque on the prairie, getting arrested at the airport. I imagine if Bishop Budka were alive today, he would empathize with the imam.

However, at least the imam's congregants don't have to worry about being shipped off to concentration camps or slaving on work gangs for starvation wages to build Canada's national parks and railways, like Ukrainian and other East European immigrants did nearly a century ago.

And certainly there won't be any books published that portray today's Muslim immigrants as ignorant, unwashed neanderthals... the way the odious Ralph Connor novel The Foreigner published in 1909 portrays Ukrainians. In fact, according to this article, the CBC has hired a Muslim-Canadian consultant to check over the scripts.

So it's a bit easier to poke fun at culture clashes in today's Canada, now that we've become such a tolerant nation and all, having learned so well from our past mistakes.

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