Little Mosque on the Prairie, Season 4

Little Mosque on the Prairie, Season 4
Four years ago, it was radical to launch a sitcom about Muslims opening a mosque in Christian Canada. The fact that Little Mosque on the Prairie has been franchised in the States and overseas proves how clever the premise was. Beyond its concept, Little Mosque is really a conventional sitcom; it offers safe laughs and cute characters. The show is careful not to provoke or offend viewers even as Rev. Thorne (Brandon Firla) takes over the Anglican church in Mercy, Saskatchewan, which he has to share with the local Muslims. Thorne is less tolerant than predecessor Rev. McGee, who departed at the end of season three, but his verbal sparring with the mosque's iman, Amaar (Zaib Shaikh), is tame. That conflict does yield one good episode, "Gloves Will Keep Us Together," where McGee tricks Amaar into climbing into the boxing ring for a charity match. The symbolism is clear and the laughs have a little more bite than usual, making this the best episode of season four. The cast and writers agree, since this is one of only two audio commentaries recorded for this set. The other extras are six two-minute webisodes, where Rev. Thorne preaches directly to the viewer about issues like Ramadan and viewer mail. "Reverend, you are a meanie," writes one. Actually, I wish he were meaner, as Little Mosque would be funnier. Perhaps I'm being unfair. Pushing the envelope by tackling say, sexism in Muslim culture or post-9/11 racism could alienate viewers and scare the CBC. Just look at the fate of Six Feet Under and True Blood creator Alan Ball's Towelhead, which was buried by a nervous studio. Mosque does communicate these issues, but you have to look for them. This is network TV, after all, where the laughs are sugar-coated, but I suspect audiences can accept something deeper. (eOne)