Why is it that when Canadians want ratings for home-grown TV, they have to pinch a hand-me-down model of another country’s hit programming to get it?
Upon viewing recent premieres of shows like Canada’s Next Top Model and Canadian Idol, a viewer can do little more than wonder whether Canadian TV buzz will ever be anything more than respective Fuzz from our trend-defining, culture-sucking U.S. counterparts.
True, Idol was originally based on a U.K. model reality show, but the underlying failure to Canadian television is originality, and the ablity to stand apart from the mass of doctor/ lawyer/forensic something-or-other and/or teen drama culture of television Americans have created.
This year it seems mimicry has hit a pique, as Canadians launched the aforementioned Top Model series, as well as continue their own hopelessly dreary version of Idol. In addition, stations like MTV Canada have undergone revamps aimed at Canadians, but designed with an underlying American-zing that grabbed viewers for the netlet in the States.
When it comes to Canadian television however, it seems that imitation isn’t always the sincerest form of flattery. You’d think taking an already successful formula and pumping it out to the masses with some snowy-pink faces from the North would be a fool-proof plan. Turns out however, us Canadians may be a little foolish.
Model, Idol and MTV, despite their resolute efforts at garnering a fanbase, have not been able to find the same supportive audience they enjoy in the States. Though Canadian Idol remains the top-rated series in the country, the suspicion remains it has little to do with the content, and more with the predisposed buzz that followed it from the South. And can we really be comparing a smashing audience following from a show like Idol to the previous ratings-desert that was prime-time Canadian TV? At this point, the well will look full from any angle you choose to look at it.
Also, has anyone noticed the freaky similarity (in shape and form) between our judges to the troublesome trio from America? Even host Mulroney’s plastic-hinting smile is a pale imitation of Seacrest, who at least gets a laugh or two between relative annoyance and awkwardness.
Producers of Top Model in Canada had the opportunity to lay new ground that would be remarked as exclusively Canadian for the competition. Instead they chose to bring in Jay Manuel who despite having roots in this country has already established himself as a main character on the American version of the show.
It seems producers in Canada are being handed blank palates of greatness, but won’t take the step to make the material we see on television exclusively Canadian. Obviously, it’s no easy feat constantly being on the heels of American TV juggernauts, but at the end of the day it is our pale imitation of U.S. TV that makes us blend further into the shadows.
Bringing in great American shows for the sole purpose of creating a Canadianized version encourages audiences to relate television according to American standards. Though these are often standards of high quality, we never truly learn what Canadian TV is capable of because of our ever-debilitating similarity-syndrome.
I am Canadian! But just remember, my TV? It’s American.