Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Little Mosque Begins Again

So the new season of Little Mosque on the Prairie began in Canada tonight on CBC and as a Canadian Muslim I felt I should watch. Also, as someone who watched every episode last season I felt the need to catch the first episode of the second season. It began quite funny. I was very impressed with what seemed to be an improvement in humour and jokes. However, very soon my satisfaction became a cringing discomfort.

In this episode we see Rayyan, the young, beautiful, opinionated, feminist, Muslim doctor, trying to convince Amaar, the young, progressive, beardless (and might I add handsome) Imam to let her announce community events. He opposes it only because he believes it will be too controversial. The men in the congregation will never accept a woman standing in front of the congregation, talking to them! What horror! She insists, as she should, that this is precisely the reason that a woman MUST make the announcements - to bring the men into the 21st century. After some argument Amaar gives in and agrees to give it a try. However, he appoints Rayyan's mother, Sarah, to present the announcements. She however is very hesitant. Rayyan, disappointed, decides to write the announcements for her mother.

Now when Sarah first presents the announcements is when I begin to cringe. She skims through them like a flaky, stereotypical blond, not really caring what appears in the announcements. The most critical men like her only because she is quick. Rayyan, being the strong feminist (who by the way wears the hijab as opposed to her flaky mother who does not) becomes increasingly irritated and annoyed. This annoyance results in an argument between mother and daughter leading them to part ways on announcement work. Sarah states she will do all the work herself. However, at the next announcement Sarah decides to tell a story about a pet turtle she had as a child, boring everyone in the congregation. Again, a very flaky move. At the behest of Amaar Rayyan agrees to come to the rescue only if Amaar lets her be the Muslim representative on the inter-faith council. He all too willingly lets her. One does not realize why until we see the inter-faith council - a group of women who are more interested in baking cookies than discussing matters of faith and community work. Again, the hijab-wearing Muslim woman is very disappointed at the stereotypical, flakiness of these women.

It seems that the show is going the extra mile, and then some, to show that women who wear the hijab are not subjugated, powerless beings. And that is a wonderful initiative as the stereotypes of hijabi women need to be shattered. But the fact that they do at the expense of all other female characters (the flaky mother, the rebellious teenager, the egotistical mayor, and the "Stepford Wives" non-Muslim council women) in the show is something which seriously needs to be re-evaluated.