08 September 2011

Does ‘Little Mosque on the Prairie’ have a future in the U.S. to ease fears?

By Tori Floyd | Daily Brew – Wed, 7 Sep, 2011

It's been almost five years since "Little Mosque on the Prairie" began, and as the CBC prepares to air the final season next year, the question remains: could it survive - and possibly help - in the U.S.?

Katie Couric, new host of ABC News, certainly thinks so. Back in December she wanted to see a Muslim equivalent of The Cosby Show to help do for Muslim Americans what the 80's sitcom did for African Americans.

Yet as the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks near, which created much of the climate of fear surrounding people of the Islamic faith, there hasn't been much interest shown by American audiences or producers in airing the quirky comedy stateside.

A recent BBC article questions if the U.S. is ready for a show like it, pointing to a revelation from Wikileaks that indicated Americans may still be too culturally sensitive and emotionally charged to welcome a show like 'Little Mosque.'

The Wikileaks document revealed U.S. diplomats cited "Little Mosque on the Prairie" as one of the shows broadcast by the CBC that pushes "insidious negative popular stereotyping" with "anti-American melodrama."

Executive producer Mary Darling responded to the accusations by sending the episode in question to the White House, wrapped in a bow. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton responded, thanking 'Little Mosque's creators for "everything you're doing to foster cross-cultural unity and understanding through comedy."

But despite the high praise from Clinton and international attention, attempts to bring similar material to the U.S. have fallen flat. In 2008, Twentieth Century Fox Studios bought the rights to create an American version of the show, but nothing has come of it so far.

And a show that also featured a Muslim-North American culture clash, "Aliens in America", ran for only one season before getting the axe.

'Little Mosque' actor Zaib Sheikh says he thinks Couric is right in continuing to hope for a 'Muslim Cosby Show' to eventually make it to the U.S. "Our show has allowed people, whether they're Muslim or non-Muslim, to look at each other and say, 'Oh yeah I get it'."

As the cast and crew of the show films the last season, there's still no sign the U.S. will make use of Fox's rights to remake the show.

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