Perhaps the two most difficult genre shows to make well are the young adult drama and anything made in Canada. After Global’s meagre attempt to do such a show with Falcon Beach, which has turned into little more than Dawson’s Creek-lite, one might expect a similar attempt from another Canadian network would not be forthcoming.
Then CTV, the top dog of Canadian television Ã¢â‚¬” mostly because it has managed to do well in its selection of American shows Ã¢â‚¬” announced the premiere of Whistler. Now that four shows have aired it can be clearly shown there is a massive difference between the beach and the slopes. Whistler has added a much needed darkness, sex and drama to the summer line-up of reality programming.
At the CTV upfronts I was able to interview three of the starts of the show. I interviewed Amanda Crew by herself and David Paetkau and Jesse Moss together, who were being good Canadian boys enjoying a Molson Canadian during the interview.
Amanda Crew plays Carrie Miller a teenager who has lost her mother to cancer, her father to abandonment and her boyfriend to snowboarding “accident.”
David Paetkau plays Beck MacKaye a national icon after winning a gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in snowboarding, and the deceased boyfriend of Carrie Miller. In the first episode he is found dead after what appears to be a snowboarding accident. Beck keeps appearing to Carrie, his brother Jesse and other cast members as they try to deal with his death and find out who Beck MacKaye really was in life.
Jesse Moss plays Quinn MacKaye the younger bother of Beck. Outshined by his brother both on the slopes and the social scene, after his brothe’s death Jesse is thrust into a new strata of popularity and also soon discovers his golden boy brother was not so perfect after all. Oh yeah, and he is in love with his brothe’s ex-girlfriend Carrie.
On filming in British Columbia
Amanda Crew: I actually grew up in the town Langley (B.C.) where we shot. So I was going around: “This is my hometown, this is where I went to school.” Looking back it’s kind of embarrassing though (to be acting that way).
Jesse Moss: I love Vancouver so much. It’s where my home is, my family are, my friends are. It’s a huge bonus being able to be close to home. And shooting in Whistler is great because Whistler is just so rad. It’s so much fun out there.
On their characters in the show
David Paetkau: It me a while to wrap my head around it (playing someone that was dead) before I started the show. But once I realized I’m just there as figments of their (the people whom he appears to) imagination, so I would appear to them how I would appear in life. In death I am very much alive.
Amanda: She has a lot of potential. The possibilities are endless. So much going on with her mom dying three years ago, her dad running off and her being raised by her sister. Now her boyfriend had died. She could go completely downward spiral, or she could learn from it and come out stronger.
Jesse: I think because he is now in the light, he can start to see himself. Because I think before he never really did. He is starting to discover things about himself and the other people that surround his life.
David: Beck starts off as one thing, on way too much of a pedestal as a national icon. But in reality there are a lot dark secrets and demons. I think in some ways he becomes a little more sympathetic.
On Whistler the place itself
Amanda: Everyone turns to the dark side in Whistler. (laughing) Whatever happens in Whistler stays in Whistler.
Amanda: I don’t think the locals will be upset about the depiction of Whistler because it (the dark side) exists. They know its there, but really every place has a dark side.
David: People around here (Toronto) who don’t know Whistler don’t realize its magnitude. It is a beautiful, extravagant, anything goes Vegas-style place. It’s a playground for rich people from all over the world. I think other Canadians will be, “Wow I didn’t realize this kind of place existed in Canada.”
Jesse: I think most Canadians have heard about Whistler but now they will actually get to see what its about.
Amanda: The stratification of the rich and poor is a big issue both in the show and real life. You have these locals who have lived there all their lives but they are struggling to survive as the area has become such a tourist place. The prices have been jacked up. Real estate is ridiculous and groceries are insane just because of the tourist industry.
On the 2010 Olympics coming to Whistler
Jesse: Maybe we could get some Olympic Gold Medal (hockey) tickets.
David (jokingly): I could interview the snowboard contestants.
Amanda: I think that’s another great push for the show internationally. It shows people this is where the next Olympics are being held.
David: I thought we would get a lot more time snowboarding but it turns out they don’t want us to get hurt.
Jesse: We did get to snowboard a little bit in the show but none of the big stunts.
Amanda: I am the only cast member who doesn’t ski or snowboard. I’m not very co-ordinated that way. I should probably learn. I tried once but I pretty much just rolled down the mountain.
On overcoming the stigma of being a Canadian show
Amanda: Kelly Senecal, a writer and executive producer for the show, doesn’t want to make this into some bubble pop kind of show. He wants it to be as real and dark as it is. He has been very true to his word about keeping to that ideal.
David: The show matches up, hopefully anyway, with anything people watch from the (United) States. It looks great and has well told stories.
Jesse: Just put out a great product, which we have. And it appeals not only to Canadians but internationally. Mostly everyone has heard of Whistler and are somewhat interested in Whistler. Also the story lines are not specifically Canadian but universal.
David: Hopefully it won’t be considered a “Canadian” show but just a show that’s great that happens to be made in Canada.
On the relationship between David and Jesse off the set
Jesse about David (sarcastically): We have our issues sometimes. He can be a bit of a diva.
David (laughing): I prefer asshole than diva.
On secrets of their own
Jesse (sarcastically): My secret is that I’m perfect.
David (laughing sarcastically??): This is my sixth beer of the day.
Amanda: I am a very secretive person so I didn’t really tell anyone when I auditioned for 15/Love. So I left for 4 months in grade 12 and about half my graduating class didn’t know where I was, they just thought I had gone away or something. I still run into people that have no idea that I do movies and acting.