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Series / Little Mosque on the Prairie

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"Nothing separates men and women like Hockey Night in Canada."
Baber Siddiqui

This comedy series is about a small community of Muslims living in a small town in western Canada. The series opens with Amaar Rashid leaving his job as a lawyer in Toronto to become the imam for the Muslim community in the small town of Mercy, Saskatchewan.

The comedy comes as much from the interactions among the various members of the Muslim community, Shi'a and Sunni, Arab and African, as from their interaction with the predominantly white and Christian townspeople of Mercy and between Amaar's big-city ideas and the locals' small-town values.

Based on series creator Zarqa Nawaz's experiences living in a small town in western Canada.

The series provides examples of:

  • Aesop Amnesia: When will Rayyan learn she shouldn't meddle?
  • Affectionate Parody/Shoutout: In the "New Year" episode, Sarah adds a Bollywood style dance to Amar's account because his story was "kind of boring."
  • Altar the Speed: Rayyan and Amaar end up planning their wedding in something like a week because Yasir unexpectedly gets the chance to visit on short notice.
  • Always Someone Better: Amaar's old friend from law school Ali has become an imam, and is irritatingly better at it in every way than Amaar.
  • Arcadia: Mercy has such a small population that Fatima will only give Fred temporary bans from her restaurant because she can't afford to lose his business for too long.
  • Arranged Marriage: In the second season Yasir suggests that his daughter Rayyan marry the son of one of his good friends; after a period of getting to know one another the two do get engaged. Just about avoids being a Perfectly Arranged Marriage because Rayyan has no problem with the idea of an arranged marriage in the first place, pointing out that the final decision will always be hers.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Baber hates three things: decadence, Western decadence, and POORLY DESIGNED CRICKET BATS!
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Nate
  • Blatant Lies: In "The Barrier" when Tupper invites Rayyan on his show to discuss the barrier Baber wants to put up in the mosque, Fatima claims that it is forbidden for women to speak on the radio, a rule apparently established in chapter 115 of the Quran (the Quran only has 114 chapters, or Suras). Not to mention, of course, that radio did not exist when the Quran was written.
  • The Boxing Episode: "Gloves Will Keep Us Together" revolves around a boxing match between Amaar and Rev. Thorne.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: When Layla started wearing a hijab, Baber worries she's covering something up—like a hickey. Or a piercing. Or a hickey piercing!
  • The Bus Came Back: Reverend Magee returns for the Christmas Episode at the beginning of Season 5. He also returns again for a few episodes at the end of the season, and Yasir and Layla return for the finale.
  • Canada, Eh?: Of the small-town rural variety. Imagine Corner Gas with Muslims. When attempting to erect a barrier in the mosque, the congregation obtains the barrier from a hockey rink.
  • Call-Back: In a season 5 episode a character objects to Mercy being called a "one horse town" because they have seven horses. A season later, almost the same conversation occurs but Sarah says they're not even a one horse town "since the glue factory opened".
    • Thorne's goal in season four is to get himself a job in a church back in Toronto, but over season five and six he grows to accept, then like Mercy. In the series finale he is worried they'll send him to some "godawful place like Toronto".
  • Calvinball: The Game of Thorne's.
  • Centipede's Dilemma: Sarah spends all day accidentally insulting people after Fatima asks her how she always knows the right thing to say.
  • Chastity Couple: Rayyan and Amaar have no physical contact at all until they finally marry in the season 5 finale, per Islamic prohibitions.
  • Christmas Episode: "It's A Wonderful Eid" and "A Holiday Story".
  • Clark Kenting: Fatima is frustrated by this trope. "Why does no-one recognize me without my hijab? I am the only black woman in Mercy!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Nate, the local reporter for the newspaper, who's a little...odd.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Nate, when Amaar points out that his advice on how to dance the hora isn't going to be much use at Amaar's wedding - "No hora? You might as well not have a rabbi!"
    • The season five opener had a local woman chide Reverend Thorne for angrily calling Mercy, Saskatchewan a one-horse town filled with morons and imbeciles; she'd pointed out that there were seven horses and one of them was due to foal soon.
  • Competition Freak: Rayyan is all about winning when placed in a competitive setting. She'll even go so far as join forces with Fred if it means increasing her chances of winning.
  • Converting for Love: Sarah converted to Islam in order to marry Yasir. However, she has apparently not taken her new religion all that seriously, possibly because Yasir isn't a very good Muslim either. Not to mention she wasn't exactly observant before converting either:
    "I don't remember much about growing up Anglican but I must've been there."
  • Cultural Translation: Has been picked up by Fox with plans to adapt the series into an American setting.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mayor Popowicz is the queen of this trope, although Amaar, Rayyan, and Reverend Magee also hold their own.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: When his schemes to get rid of Amaar and the mosque are finally beaten for good, Thorne throws himself into becoming BFFs with Amaar instead.
  • Derailing Love Interests: By the time Amaar realizes he loves Rayyan she's engaged to JJ, with whom she has a solid, loving relationship... right up to the point where he breaks up with her during their wedding vows.
  • The Ditz: Nate. (*poking himself with a drinking straw* "Ow, my looking-eye!")
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Fred "betrays" Fatima by eating at another diner, it's treated like romantic infidelity.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: A number of jokes are made concerning Amaar's past as a lawyer.
    Yasir: You have to do something.
    Amaar: What?
    Yasir: Sue him!
    Amaar: You can't just sue people for no reason. *Beat* Well, all right, you can, but I'm not doing that anymore.
  • Expy: Fred Tupper seems to be inspired by American talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, including using some of his distinctive mannerisms. This makes him stand out quite a bit in the supposedly Canadian setting, since Rush Limbaugh would be considered an absolute fringe figure by the much more liberal standards of Canada.
  • Fish out of Water: Amaar, at the beginning of the show.
  • Flanderization: Baber used to be a devout Muslim who usually but not always realised the others thought of him as old-fashioned and conservative but didn't care. Following what he believed to be the rules of Islam was one of the most important things, besides his daughter, to him. Now, he's all about being conservative. The implication he's not conservative is now worse than the implication he's not a faithful Muslim, which is all kinds of wrong.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity:
    • Rayyan takes Fatima to the local community center for swimming lessons, thinking there will only be women present. Although they're dressed in conservative swimming suits, they immediately cover themselves with towels when they discover that the instructor is a man. An out-and-proud Camp Gay man, but a man nonetheless.
    • The plot of one episode revolves around JJ's jealousy when he finds out Amaar has (accidentally, for a few seconds) seen Rayyan's hair. The women at Rayyan's bachelorette party — who have removed their hijabs as it's a female-only party — scream and hide when a delivery man walks in.
  • Funny Background Event: During Anne and Charles's wedding, during the kiss, Baber tries to cover Layla's eyes.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy: In one episode, Mercy's Muslim community was divided (again): the more liberal members of the congregation wanted men and women to pray together in the same room, while the more conservative members insisted that a wall be erected between the men and women's prayer spaces. Amaar, the imam, erected a wall that stretched halfway across the room, so the conservative-minded men could pray in front of it with the conservative-minded women behind it, while the liberal congregants would pray on the wall-less side of the room. Neither faction was pleased (but it was a typical Canadian solution).
    Amar: The perfect Muslim solution... Nobody's happy.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Reverend Thorne, after a season of being blatantly antagonistic to Amaar and the Muslims, starts acting nice to them due to his keen sense of self-preservation. (He realizes that his parishoners like the Muslims, and his superiors do, too.) But after a time, he comes around himself, and becomes a genuine friend to Amaar, even attending his wedding, and being considered for Best Man.
    • In much the same way, the whole town undergoes a similar change. Once they get to know the Muslims and their ways, the Christians genuinely like them. Even Joe, whose panicked call to the terror hotline started the series, befriends Rayyan and Baber, and attends Amaar's bachelor party with no fuss made about it.
  • Hidden Depths: Joe may appear to be a hick and the quintessential Fred Tupper listener, but he is apparently very well read and always listens when people talk (meaning he's the only person who actually learns anything when Baber starts giving out investment advice)
  • Horrible Camping Trip: Not only do Nate, Baber, Faisal and Fred gatecrash Amaar's solo retreat in the woods, they leave the tents and food behind. Trying to get help leaves Amaar lost in the woods all night.
    • Lost with Thorne, who at the time was his enemy.
  • Hot Librarian: Rose.
  • It's Personal: Played with when Reverend Magee beats Baber in a Koran quiz and the two of them have a fight over it: on accepting a rematch, Magee declares that this time it's personal, but Baber points out it was personal for him the first time, too. "Seriously, my feelings were hurt."
  • Jerkass: Fred Tupper was the original Jerkass of the show, but he's been mostly replaced by Reverend Thorne. Both of them get fairly regular Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Baber. He loves his daughter and his community, even though he'll tell them they're bad Muslims or infidels.
  • Large Ham: Thorne ("By the band-aids of Lazarus!"), though Yasir has his moments.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In "Swimming Upstream" Sarah sabotages Rayyan's petition to get a female lifeguard at the public pool because the money that would be used to hire the guard would come out of the mayor office's budgeted trip to China, meaning Sarah wouldn't get to go. The petition ultimately fails...but then the pump at the pool breaks down, and the amount it costs to fix is the same amount it would have taken to hire the guard.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Amaar and Rayyan finally confessed their attraction to each other in the last two minutes of the final episode of the fourth season. Although their romance carries on throughout season 5, they don't actually kiss until the very last scene of the finale.
  • Local Hangout: Fatima's restaurant is where all the characters gather to eat and chat. Even Fred is a regular patron who comes in for the food and repartee.
  • Lovable Coward: Yassir and to a lesser extent Amaar.
  • Lysistrata Gambit: The women pull this (and discuss it by name) in an early episode, though Sarah in particular finds it tough going.
  • Market-Based Title: The show was webcast in the United States as just "Little Mosque," eliminating the reference for Little House on the Prairie.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: From the first episode: Amaar is talking to his mom over the cellphone at the airport. With this dialogue, it's somewhat understandable they were mistaken:
    "I don't care if Dad thinks this is suicide. I'm on a mission from God. It's not like a dropped a bomb on him."
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: "The mosque's constitution was written by our wise founding fathers. And Faisal."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Even Fred Tupper has his moments of regret.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: Rayyan gets locked out of the house during her bachelorette party - in a variation of the trope, she's actually fully clothed, but her hair is uncovered and her dress is knee-length and sleeveless. Hilarity Ensues as she hides in the back of the pizza guy's car and ends up stuck in the woods in the middle of a paintball game.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Fred Tupper's radio show is a non-too-subtle parody of The O Reilly Factor and various other political talk shows hosted by right-wing blowhards.
  • Noodle Incident: The Wispinski incident.
    • Also, to cheer up a guest character who thinks his boss' dog has been eaten by another dog, Joe consoles him about the one time he really let someone down. I mean, he can no longer sell cheddar in Alberta, but life goes on...for him
  • Odd Couple: Reverend Magee and Amaar, and later Thorne and Baber.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Parodied by Amaar.
  • Oh, Crap!: Jamal when he realizes that Layla agreed to play ayo with him and his mom. Layla has a similar reaction at the end of the episode when Fatima comes into the room and shakes the container for the game.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Related to Fake Nationality, there are lines when the actors' accents slip slightly.
    • Baber, who has to rant long, loud, and passionately in a truly exaggerated accent, is particularly prone to this.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Averted. Fatima overhears a conversation between Rayyan and JJ — "why not do it now, we're gonna do it after the wedding anyway..." "after the wedding, I want to do it right in front of my parents!" — and correctly guesses that they're talking about when they should open their wedding presents.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Rayyan is grossed out over how affectionate Yasir and Sarah continue to be.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Subverted: Rayyan tries to get into Amaar's voicemail trying obvious codes like "Amaar" and "Islam" but gives up when she realizes it's not going to work. Double Subverted when at the end of the episode Amaar enters in his password: Rayyan.
  • Pretend Prejudice: Fred Tupper regularly rants about Muslims (often accusing them of being terrorists) on his radio show but has no problem with: Going to a Muslim doctor, watching a football game with a room full of Muslims, and eating halal food from a Muslim-owned cafe. In fact, he seems to have something of a friendship with Fatima, the cafe-owner. He's certainly shown that he cares about her.
    • Justified, in that he really doesn't hate them... for their religion. A flashback episode shows that he started as a radio host who was looking for a subject he could use repeatedly. Fatima herself suggests talking about Muslims, to which (to paraphrase Fred) he replies: "Interesting, but what would be my angle? I mean, am I for ya or against ya?" (somewhat jokingly). Cue Baber entering the diner and introducing himself by grabbing Fred from behind, causing his coffee to spill all over himself. "Never mind, I think I know". It's clearly played for laughs, and no one really believes it. Keep in mind that Baber himself is the most conservative of the Muslims on the show, and yet has no problem being in the company of most of the cast (including liberal Muslims and non-Muslims).
  • Put on a Bus: At the beginning of Season 4, it is revealed that Reverend Magee left Mercy to do service in the North, prompting the arrival of Reverend Thorne.
    • To a lesser extent, JJ. He was a series regular in Seasons 2 and 3, but he left Rayyan at the altar on their wedding day and was never seen again.
  • Really Gets Around: The Mayor has quite a taste for a variety of younger men.
  • Rule of Three: "You're staying in Mercy!? You could go to Toronto or Vancouver....or Iraq!"
  • Running Gag: People pointing out that Amaar doesn't have a beard
  • Ship Tease: The show has teased semi-Crack Pairings Fred/Fatima and Baber/Fatima.
    • The former once had a full episode devoted to a subplot where Fred eating at a competitor's restaurant was akin to cheating (funnily enough, he tries to pass a pie stain of as lipstick, knowing that Fatima will be more tolerant of him fooling around with a woman than eating pie from that restaurant). He gives her chocolates in an attempt to atone, she packs up a box of his stuff, at one point crying, he's convinced not to eat a non-halal hot dog by the local preacher (note that he's not Muslim) and to keep trying to fix the relationship, and eventually, he wins her back by making a public apology on his radio station. Oh, and in one episode (possibly the same one), Fred reacts like a jealous lover when she starts giving Magee food that she used to reserve solely for him.
  • Shout-Out: In "Archdeacon Cometh," the archdeacon in question mentions that he just came from Dog River...
  • Sinister Minister: Reverend Thorne's a comedic version, though he's mostly redeemed by the end of season 5.
  • Sleep Cute: Amaar and Thorne - still very much in the enemies stage of their relationship - get lost at night in the woods. Amaar wakes up in the morning to find Thorne pretty much wrapped around him.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Rayyan.
  • Stereotype: In-universe examples in the bachelor party episode, both Played for Laughs - Thorne arranges a paintball game for Amaar's bachelor party, because "if there's one thing I know about Muslims, they love guns!" and Amaar chooses the teams at random, only realising too late that his team is entirely Muslim and the other team is entirely white.
  • Strawman Political: Fred Tupper, the host of the local rightish-wing radio talk show.
    • Also Baber Siddiqui, an Islamic fundamentalist who sermonizes on topics such as evil westerners trying to corrupt Islamic children through such products as root beer and liquorice.note 
  • Straw Character: Fred Tupper, an offensive radio host who doesn't trust Muslims, as well as Baber, who believes that winegums, liquorice, and rye bread are part of a plot to trick Muslims into drinking alcohol. In one episode, Baber was able to patch up his religious differences with an ignorant redneck because they both felt equally strongly about same-sex marriage, or, as Baber called it, "The Abomination." It gets even more subversive when you consider that the imam, who would never conduct such a marriage, encourages the Anglican minister to.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: "No more burqas. You wear the veil, you go to jail! You do the crime, you... go to jail."
  • Tempting Fate: Yasser reassures Amaar that the open house is going on "without an itch". The Chekhov's Gun-ish electric box he has been tasked to fix proceeds to blow up.
  • Theme Naming: A couple called Rose and Thorne.
  • Those Two Guys: Omar and Yussef in season 6
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Nate to Amar. Particularly, in the first episode they meet where he makes some of the worst decisions imaginable over the course of the two of them over the course of a single afternoon. They wind up in jail.
  • Training Montage: Spoofed in one episode. Baber is walking down the street reading a book of Curling rules and regulations. He proceeds to walk past people playing various other sports and up a flight of stairs, then turns around and holds the book in the air. Oh yea, and an oddly played version of Gonna Fly Now is indeed playing.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Amaar and Rayyan for the first few seasons.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Baber, who may be a retired economics professor, but he's still unapologetically the Islamic version of Archie Bunker.
    • Actually most-if not all-of the cast have pretty sketchy morals at times. Fortunately, the sketchy moments are divided more or less evenly between the Christian and Muslim characters.
  • Van in Black: When an agent of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service came to Mercy on holiday, the Muslim community got paranoid, and Baber noticed a delivery truck outside the Mosque. He claims it's a stakeout, and there are three agents there, one of them called "Sarge", and they're drinking coffee out of paper cups (it's actually a candy truck trying to deliver candy, but Rayyan won't pick up her phone). At the end of the episode, CSIS really does start surveillance on the mosque and there really are three agents there, drinking coffee out of paper cups, and one of them is called "Sarge".
  • Verbal Tic: Amaar has one in "Haunted Mosque on the Prairies" — whenever he talks about the new mosque he has to add that it's opening "in three short weeks."
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The aforementioned "A Holiday Story" qualifies.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Amaar, because he considers it un-Islamic.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Thorne pulls one of these after a charity boxing match with Amaar. It backfires when the people he was hoping to turn against Amaar are actually impressed by his attempts to make amends.
  • Zany Scheme: Yasir, Sarah and the Mayor are all prone to coming up with these. Yasir's fondness for them is lampshaded a couple of times.
    Ann: What would Yasir do...? He'd jump on that crazy scheme and ride it to the finish line!