Saturday, March 25, 2006

What if Mike Brady had been a Muslim?

What American hasn’t seen countless episodes of “The Brady Bunch?” Popular in the US in the 70’s and still today, “Drei Maedchen und Drei Jungen” was apparently also popular in Germany. Since last week, Germany has begun airing its own distinctly German/Berlin version of The Brady Bunch, called Tuerkisch fuer Angaenger (Turkish for Beginners.)

The basic story follows Metin and Doris and their respective children (2 on each side) as they move in together and try to form a family unit. The twist, however, is that Metin and his children are Muslim. Though Metin and his son are not strict, his daughter is very devout—prays 5 times/day, doesn’t eat pork, wears a headscarf, etc…

I think the show is great on a number of levels. In terms of pure entertainment value, the show is really funny! Doris is a quirky therapist and Metin trys to be super dad but much like Mike Brady, often isn’t quite successful. Doris’ daughter Lena has perpetual boy problems and Metin’s daughter Yagmur is constantly irritated by her integrated family’s lack of “proper” behavior. The sons are funny too, but don’t play quite as major a role. This week’s episodes have included Doris accidentally serving pork to Yagmur and Yagmur confusing her new family with the punishments she gives herself to atone for her sin. Having nothing to do with being Muslim or Christian, all the kids are horrified to find their parents sleeping together and all are having problems at school of one kind or another.

On a slightly deeper level, I am intrigued by the show because of how current the topic is and unique. There have been couples on television and in the movies that were mixed race and Jewish-Christian, but I can’t think of a program where a Muslim family has ever been featured; and certainly not a Muslim-Christian family. I can’t really see Hollywood making such a television series, but I can’t decide why. Is it because ethnic/religious integration is just not as big of an issue in the States or because the topic would be taboo?

The actor who plays the father was interviewed on television earlier this week and was asked whether he felt the show should still run in light of the Mohammed cartoon protests. He said absolutely because the program shows gently pokes fun at both sides. I would generally agree with that. In my opinion, the show is similar to Will and Grace in that it walks the fine line between using stereotypes to help push the envelope of social acceptance and causing more harm by perpetuating stereotypes of lesser understood groups of people.

Then again, I am concerned not only by stereotypes but also by people who overanalyze everything:-) Long story short, If you understand some German, check out the show’s website and make up your own mind!
http://www.daserste.de/tuerkischfueranfaenger/

3 Comments:

At 2:59 PM, Blogger johnharolds6331167053 said...

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At 3:13 PM, Blogger eightyone81 said...

Hey Erin!

Is that show a comedy? pretty good idea. It works in Germany because muslims are so well represented over there, I think it would not work very well in the U.S. People just can't relate to it over here, most americans only know muslims from the media, mostly putting muslims in a bad light...

 
At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Erin,
I haven't seen the show but admit that it sounds like a good idea. Why not bring something to the general public that could "push the envelope" further? Then again, the U.S. has crasser versions of families mixing and sometimes clashing - witness Wifeswap. While class and racial lines are often crossed, I don't think that the show is particularly artful in dispelling stereotypes. I hope the German attempt is better. Jennie

 

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