Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yes, good TV does exist outside of Hollywood

I recently went to a panel discussion on Media and the Arab world which discussed the lack of positive Muslim role models in the Western media from TV news anchors to movie stars. Although the topic was Western media, they primarily focused on American media outlets as they believed that it is American TV shows, movies, and other forms of journalism that has the greatest influence on Western audiences. This may be the case, but I just want to briefly highlight a few non-American Western shows and movies that do star Muslim characters and/or focus on Muslim plotlines and are doing precisely what this panel would love to see from Hollywood.

1) Little Mosque on the Prairie. This Canadian TV show, now in its fourth season, follows a small Muslim community in the small town of Mercy, Saskatchewan. Its characters represent a plurality of religious, ethnic, and political voices and the writers demonstrate a real interest in presenting a more thoughtful, nuanced look at Muslim life in the West. Unfortunately, it's not available on Netflix, but you can watch all the episodes on YouTube.

2) Only Human, a screwball comedy set in Spain, tells the story of a Jewish woman who brings home her Palestinian boyfriend for Shabbat dinner. For all the madcap chaos that ensues, much of it not having to do with the Jewish/Palestinian premise, it also slyly manages to address stereotypes on both sides with a refreshing lack of melodrama or preachiness.

These are but two examples of media projects that are trying, through humor, to offer to bridge the seemingly insurmountable gap between the West and the Muslim world. I am excited by these works and enthusiastically say--keep them coming!

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