I admit it, I bought into the hype.
Maybe it was the name or the fact that it was covered by the New York Times and CNN. Nevertheless, I was in front of the television to watch the premier of Little Mosque on the Prairie. It's hard to form an opinion on the show after just one episode. However, I've decided to share my thoughts on the show, and then compare them after watching a few more episodes.
The best way I could describe the program is Corner Gas meets King Of The Hill. C.G. in the sense of location and supporting characters; and K.O.T.H in the sense of the emphasis on stereotypes. There are two groups of characters; the Muslim population and the rest of the town of Mercy's citizens. Both groups can then be subdivided into two smaller groups: Those who think sensibly and those who think insensibly.
With the Muslims, you have those who think in a progressive way. This would include Amaar, the new Iman, and Rayyan, the daughter of Yassir. You also have Muslim characters who think in a very strong Conservative and traditional way such as Baber, the old Iman, and Fatima. The Conservative Muslims are the ones who refuse to let any type of Western influence into their life. Case in point, Baber's sermon when he exclaims, "How can the Desperate Housewives be desperate when they are only fulfilling their womanly duty?"
Then, there are the town's folk. Most of whom are paranoid and somewhat ignorant. This includes everyone from the Mayor to the local radio talk show host. Ironically, the only person who is actually open and respectful to the Muslims, is the town's Priest. There are also characters who have a presence in all the groups. Most notable of this is Yassir and his non-Muslim wife, Sarah.
The foundation of the program is having these groups and their respective sub-groups, clash with each other. The results of the clash can vary. Sometimes you'll be laughing (i.e.: cucumber sandwiches vs. goat curry); and other times, you feel very uncomfortable (i.e.: everything said by the talk show host).
Does Little Mosque live up to the hype? Again, only the first episode has aired. However, it did reach my expectations. Is it funny? You will certainly get a good few laughs. Personally, I was hoping for humour that was smart and bold (such as Arrested Development and The Newsroom). Instead, I would describe the humour as "safe." Is it the best Canadian sitcom? That remains to be seen.
I'll certainly be watching the next episode.