Canadian Content: More From the Great White North

At the risk of being pigeonholed as an entertainment columnist, I have decided to discuss the topic of Canadian television to demonstrate that its stereotypical image of being less entertaining or of poorer quality than its American counterpart is completely false. While the appeal of American television seems to be very strong among young Canadians, there exist very entertaining and innovative Canadian programs geared toward a late-teen and early-20s audience. Some of these programs I am sure you have heard of before, but you may not be watching them because of timeslot conflicts, or perhaps simply because they are Canadian productions.

The first program I would like to highlight is Street Cents. The long-running, Emmy award-winning (no that is not a typo), consumer affairs show attempts to sift through advertising hype and find out for young people whether or not a product or service is actually worth spending money on. The combination of investigative journalism, viewer discussions about youth issues in a consumer culture, and insightful parodies of popular advertisements, makes this show extremely entertaining and informative. Just in case you want to check it out, Street Cents airs on the CBC Mondays at 5:30, so tune in to find out which companies are ripping you off.

The second Canadian program that I would like to discuss has absolutely no educational value in it whatsoever. But, what it lacks in sophistication, it more than makes up for in humour and creativity. Trailer Park Boys is an emerging sensation. Now in its third season, the show is shot in a documentary style where an anonymous cameraman records the actions of Julian, Rickey and Bubbles as they live their lives in, as you may have guessed, a trailer park. While the show has been referred to as the present day Great White North with Bob and Doug Mackenzie, there is definitely something more to it than that. Since the show airs on Showcase, it is allowed to depict its characters as foul-mouthed, booze-swilling trailer-trash desperately searching for ways to retire by the time they’re 35. To this end, they have absolutely no problem with engaging in the occasional shootout to solve their problems. Trailer Park Boys airs Sundays at 9:00 pm on Showcase, and don’t be turned off by the sloppy production quality. It is supposed to look that way.

The last Canadian program that I think people should at least give a look is something simply called play. Hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, former band member of Moxy Fruvous, (remember ‘Once I Was The King of Spain?’), the show takes place in a bar in downtown Toronto and discusses a variety of topics in culture, politics and the arts. Since the show is shot in a bar, there is a very informal tone to it, and Ghomeshi usually interviews his guests while nursing a pint of beer. Play is designed to appeal to viewers in their 20s, and while a hint of cultural snobbiness surfaces every once in awhile, the program does an excellent job of highlighting and showcasing a wide variety of Canadian culture that many people think is nonexistent. Once again, just in case you want to check play out, it’s on CBC Newsworld, Thursday nights at 11:00.

I openly admit that I watch more American television programming than Canadian, but I want to simply point out that there are many very well-done and entertaining shows produced in Canada.