When I sat down with the incredible cast of Little Mosque on the Prairie to talk about the series finale,
I didn’t realize how much I’d throw things off, or what a diverse discussion we’d have, when I brought up an article Deb McGrath (Mayor Popowicz) had posted on Facebook the previous evening.
Can we talk about the posting you put up yesterday?
Deb: I was crying when I read that. They’re trying to pass a bill in Kansas that if you are a young mother and your doctor finds out that you’ve got a severely disable or deformed child and he is pro-life, it is his right to keep that information from you, so you have to carry that child to term.
Sitara Hewitt (Rayyan Hamoudi): Not all moms can handle that.
Deb: And more to the point…
Sheila McCarthy (Sarah Hamoudi): …it’s none of his friggin’ business.
Zaib Shaikh (Amaar Rashid): That’s heinous.
Deb: Again, women are victims. And when you think of all the women who fought so hard for equal rights, just to be able to take control of our own bodies, and to suddenly have it taken away…
Sheila: …is ridiculous.
Brandon Firla (Reverend Thorne): It’s a lot of republicans.
I tried to bring it around by saying “And in a lot of a ways, isn’t that similar to what you guys have been doing as well? Breaking through a lot of stereotypes and stigmas?” but the cast were on a tear.
Sitara: And it’s all men, people without uteruses putting down these rulings.
Zaib: It’s horrific.
Brandon: And it’s Christian men.
Zaib: The National Arts Centre just announced their season with “big news” that they’re “focusing on women playwrights”. Imagine a world where that’s not news, it’s a matter of course.
Sheila: Where it’s taken for granted. It’s just a thing.
Zaib: In this day and age, if that’s till news, that’s not cool. The fact that it has to be news is not good enough.
Deb: Last week the New York Times did a thing about Gloria Steinham and why no one has taken her place. And they were saying that a lot of people were complaining that because she was a beautiful white woman, it didn’t help the cause. And I thought, she was a woman who had the balls to step up, so who cares. And she is mentoring young women.
Zaib: There needs to be forward thinking.
And isn’t it funny that the bias is over her looks? It has nothing to do with how intelligent she is or how articulate.
Zaib: Well, I get that all the time about myself.
We all break up laughing and I finally get my opportunity to appease the PR reps by getting back to the purpose of our meeting when I ask “Are you going to end up like the Brady Bunch and in about 10 years you’ll start doing the reunion movies?”
Arlene Duncan (Fatima Dinssa): Wouldn’t that be fun!!
Zaib: I hope so!
Arlene: I’ll still be running the café, wiping down the counter.
They all laugh again as they joke about where there characters would be 10 years from now.
And then I ask question I’m sure everyone else has as well: how do you feel now that it’s come to the end?
Deb is the first to crack out “I hated these people! And I couldn’t be happier!”
Arlene’s a bit more reflective when she says “I feel it’s a job well done.”
Sheila quickly adds “We’re very lucky, very grateful.”
Deb: And we were saying the emotional end of it happened when we finished shooting. And it was emotional. A lot of tears and a lot of moments.
Zaib: What was cool was this season we really got a lot of attention, almost as much as our first season, and I really feel like it’s a great bookend. We had an opportunity and I feel we knocked it out of the park.
Deb: And you know what, the gift of the finale to the fans -we were all choked up when we were reading it -it honours the nucleus of the show. And I hope it honours Zarqa (Nawaz, the series creator).
Sitara: We got to play everything on this show from emotional to funny to just out there kooky, and you don’t get that in a lot of series so we were lucky. And now that the show’s ending, you realize that as it goes off in to the past, that we were a part of history. And that people who watched it were a part of history too. Just a sweet, simple but impactful part of history that will never happen again.
Well, you guys were groundbreaking.
Sheila: The whole season last year, we were very aware of that, so every show was special and it was hard to live like that.
Sitara: We savoured very second of being on set.
So do you guys worry about the curse of Canadian television and having been on such a big, successful show? Do you worry about what’s going to happen after?
Sheila: To our careers?
Yes. I mean, I know a lot of you are stage actors as well.
Sheila: That’s the beauty of living in Canada. You get to move around the mediums.
Zaib: You do, but in Canada, I’ll be honest with the (Vancouver) Playhouse closing and the news of the Saskatchewan film tax credits being eliminated, it’s not just those provinces that suffers. We are just at the height of amazing things and we’re in a dangerous place.
Arlene: I’m a cockeyed optimist. This happens all the time in this industry. We’re in a weird economy all around the world so if you get sucked into that, you’ll find yourself being dragged down.
Zaib: I’m just saying, as an industry, we have to really take a step up now. We have the opportunity to get out of that cycle. Because this is really a highlight time and I hope there are more shows that do something for the culture of this country. Every country wishes they had a TV show that made it around the world. That’s what every country wants.
And that leads to our conversation’s next weird turn…
Deb: I saw us in Spanish the other day. I wanted to freeze time. It was fan-tastic!!
Arlene: Oh I’d love to hear myself in Spanish, can you imagine?
Sheila: I’d love to meet the people who do us.
Zaib: We should do a documentary on that.
I’m sure you could get funding for that!
Sheila: A Canada Council grant for all the dialects around the world.
Zaib: We’ll go around the world and meet the actors who play us.
And that’s your first reunion movie right there!
Part 1 of the Little Mosque series finale airs Monday night on CBC. See you there!