I predict ordinary Canadians won’t care, and no wonder

I always have fun with my silly Emmy predictions posts, even though so much of my opinion is based on hearsay and prior bias rather than any passion for most of the season’s nominated shows themselves. It occurred to me as I was writing this year’s entry that because I sample so many Canadian shows as part of my TV, eh? duties, for once in my life I have seen more Gemini nominees than Emmy nominees. So I did consider for a few minutes writing a similar Gemini prediction post. And then I came to my senses.

I was exaggerating when I said no one would read it. Some of the people whose shows I mentioned might read it, and based on past history, there’s a good chance I’d open my email to much ego-fuelled vitriol unless the post was about how every show was deserving, rah rah rah.

Because in the world of Canadian television, the Internet is not for fans. There’s a small fan base in any case because of our smaller population and the anemic viewership most Canadian shows generate. On top of that, too often opinions are shouted down and ridiculed by people who draw a paycheque from the industry, some of whom choose not to identify themselves as such.

It’s part of the professionalism discrepancy between the US and Canadian systems that’s evident in other ways. One of the most damaging examples is the disdain for the populace that oozes out of many industry discussions. Television Without Pity was co-founded by Canadians, but if there were a TWoP-like site focused on Canadian TV, it wouldn’t be dominated by fans being merciless about the shows they watch, it would be overrun by industry people being merciless about their potential audience base. Unless of course it’s election season, in which case contempt for ordinary Canadians turns into passionate attempts to speak for ordinary Canadians, while ordinary Canadians stay silent or speak for themselves. No wonder Stephen Harper believes it’s politically expedient to turn arts funding cutbacks into votes.

Berating people who care enough to talk about a show is an interesting way to try to cultivate interest, as is disparaging the population at large, but it’s in keeping with the Canadian industry’s witness protection philosophy. “Canadian TV: Shh, don’t tell anyone we’re here.” The addendum: “And if you fools accidentally discover us, scram.”

I started TV, eh? not because I cared about the industry, but because as a viewer I cared about people like me, never getting to make the choice of whether a Canadian show was worth watching or not because I’d never even heard about them. Unfortunately, now what I hear, read and experience leads me to believe that the Canadian industry cultivates and therefore deserves its obscurity.

Viewers, on the other hand, deserve a thriving homegrown industry (read John Doyle of the Globe and Mail and Mark Leiren-Young in the Vancouver Sun if you’re questioning why). So I can only hope awards season and election season will pass without further damaging its reputation and its foundations.

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2 Responses to I predict ordinary Canadians won’t care, and no wonder

  1. Ariadne says:

    One of the most damaging examples is the disdain for the populace that oozes out of many industry discussions…Berating people who care enough to talk about a show is an interesting way to try to cultivate interest.

    As you yourself berate, such as in the April 25th column on House.

    It’s always been obvious that you care about House, Wilson and Cuddy and the rest is filler. That’s your prerogative. But you mocked people who commented on the blog and said that they preferred the show which Chase and Cameron on it rather than this new version. Not a good idea to make fun of people who you want to read your blog.

    Whatever I think (and I think Shore made a number of show-running mistakes in the fourth season that have seriously affected the quality of the episodes), or what anyone else personally thinks, the real answer is found in the numbers and it’s taken until now to get a sense of where they really are (which is why I’m replying here instead of April, and also because you were too nasty in April to fans of the original team for me to want to make the effort). While House still wins the 18 – 34 demo (although NCIS is making inroads there too), it’s been bleeding viewers since season 3, down from 18 million to 12 million. The repeat of Ugly went as low as 6 and didn’t even make the top 24 shows of the week. Maybe Shore should have listened to what people were saying instead of telling them that they don’t know what’s good for them before he lost 1/3 of his audience.

    By the way, have you noticed that even Maureen Ryan is admitting that she now realizes that the things people complained about in her columns really are problems? Sometimes it take TV reviewers a while to catch up to us stupid viewers.

    I’ve enjoyed many Canadian TV shows, This is Wonderland, Da Vinci’s Inquest, The Border, Little Mosque, Forever Knight, even going back to ENG and Street Legal. I’ve never had any trouble finding them, it’s there in the New Shows section of my TV listings. The problem has always been losing them because the Canadian audience is too small. If they can’t find an American station to show them as Due South and Flashpoint did, they’re not long for this world.

  2. Diane Kristine says:

    Thanks for the laugh – it’s oddly appropriate that you’re trying to equate the Canadian television industry with a blogger. If you want to expend the mental energy trying to grasp the difference, one is an industry that gets taxpayer and investor money to produce a product that supposed professionals want me to watch. One is a person with an opinion who doesn’t care if you agree or not, or even read or not (and I would have said that before I stopped writing about the show. That would be the difference between a professional critic like Maureen Ryan and me, too, by the way.

    I have no idea what you’re actually referring to because if you can’t be bothered to comment on the relevant post, I can’t be bothered to look up something from over half a year ago. But to clarify, I don’t think Chase and Cameron are filler, I think they are secondary characters, as are Wilson and Cuddy, and I don’t believe the show has ever rewarded people who choose to get overwrought about their lack of screentime. I do think there are a lot of reasons why the show is bleeding viewers and why it’s not nearly as good this season but that’s a post for another day, if I ever feel like writing it. That’s the beauty of a blog.

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