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The Palace (2008)
Buckingham Palace 90210
"The Palace" looks like one of those American post-adolescent dramas where beautiful young 20-somethings are scheming and screwing at every opportunity. Even the role of the queen, recently widowed, seems to have been written for Joan Collins.
Cheap, tawdry, and ridiculous though it is it makes amusing fluff, a pleasant diversion. If you want to laugh at young actors struggling a little too hard to look like they're taking themselves seriously and roll your eyes at the absurdity this could be a lot of fun. In fact, one has to wonder how much the creative staff for this silliness just saw the whole thing as a spoof. If anyone meant this show to be taken seriously it's an epic fail, but as a take-off on American dramas, it's really quite funny.
Little Mosque on the Prairie (2007)
Not brilliant, but not so bad, and a very welcome relief
LMOTP is very much in the vein of earlier comedies about a new ethnic group integrating into the new world. OK, Muslims are not AN ethnic group and the Muslims of Mercy are am ethnic mosaic unto themselves. Admittedly the show started off pleasant, but less than brilliant and has been sliding on its charm - a bit thin and predictable. Still it's no worse than a lot of sitcoms. A bit gentle and old-fashioned for some tastes, but is that so bad?
Even though I'm a Muslim I enjoy the sex-and-violence appeal of something like "True Blood" -- totally absent here -- but as a Muslim I find it very relaxing, even therapeutic, to see something about Muslims on TV that is gentle and bloodless. Some of these reviews complain that it's not controversial. Why should everything about Muslims have to be controversial? I'm tired of nearly everything on the tube about my religion and my community dripping with snark or going for the adrenaline. If this is a bit quaint and soporific, even if it is simple and clichéd it shows Muslims with a sense of humor, Muslims as ordinary people who might be your neighbors, and you'd be OK with that. That alone makes this show unique and very welcome.
Arguably we all deserve better on a lot of counts, but like it or not, for humanizing Muslims on TV this is the best we have so far, and on that count it's far better than anything in the USA. Flawed as it is, LMOTP is a welcome first step in the right direction.