While we cover and are huge fans of Canadian television here at The TV Junkies I have to admit I usually stay out of the business side of things. However, through covering Canadian TV over the last several years I’ve grown quite fond of not only the industry, its final product, but also the people involved in making it. With its most recent decision handed down last Thursday, the CRTC (Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) is now threatening to ruin the very thing I love about Canadian television: it’s “Canadian-ness.”
In short, the CTRC’s decision reduces the point system for what makes a show Canadian from eight to six points. This means projects can now hire more Americans and other non-Canadians in pivotal behind the scenes and starring roles. Since the ruling was quietly handed down many showrunners, producers, directors and writers in the Canadian TV industry have voiced how upset they are over the decision. I’m here to tell them they are not alone. Fellow fans of Canadian television, we should be equally upset. The product we know and love is about to change significantly because of this ruling.
I watch Canadian television because it is Canadian, not because it’s “almost” American. There are plenty of US shows out there for that. Canadian television programs bring something unique to the table and I respect the hell out of them for that. Canadian sensibilities and viewpoints from shows like Flashpoint, Murdoch Mysteries, Rookie Blue, Lost Girl and Saving Hope are what draw me in and fill a void. There’s a reason why in the age of PeakTV in the US I’m still routinely drawn to Canadian shows. It’s a void for me that can’t be filled even by the hundreds and hundreds of US shows on the air. There’s a reason those shows are infused with these sensibilities and perspectives–they are made by Canadians. It’s that simple. If you take those people away then you are taking away the very thing that makes the product great.
Canadian stories are not the same as US stories and that’s a good thing. They deserve to be told, not only by Canadians, but in the style that only Canadians can bring to the table. Canada is ahead of the US when it comes to issues such as LGBT representation and female equality and that comes through in stories being told on such shows as Wynonna Earp, Orphan Black and Killjoys. These shows are bringing in viewers desperate to see themselves represented on television and providing something that can’t be found elsewhere. If the CRTC had bothered to ask audiences their opinion prior to their decision I’m guessing many would’ve heralded these unique Canadian points of view as why they keep coming back to such shows.
For so long Canadian television has been criticized as a “lesser version” of stronger and far superior US shows, but the days of saying Canadian television doesn’t measure up are over. As an example, I’d be willing to stack X Company–especially that insanely stellar second season–up against any of the best US shows out there. Canadian television is also home to some of my favorite voices in television. I shudder to think that the future Michelle Lovretta, Tassie Cameron or Emily Andras struggling to be heard may never have her opportunity because of this new ruling. Seriously, just consider for a moment what a travesty that would be.
Canadian television has proved over and over that it’s not lacking for talent. However, with its new ruling the CRTC is saying it values middle-tier US talent over some of the very talent responsible for making the Canadian TV industry so great in recent years. That talent just isn’t just behind the scenes either. Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany is one of the best actresses on television. Period. Thanks to the CRTC’s decision we may now be living in a world where she never would have been cast or given a chance.
After seeing so much quality Canadian television get churned out over the last few years this ruling by the CRTC sure feels like quite the gut punch–not only to those responsible for making Canadian television, but also for those of us that love it. I’m constantly amazed by the quality product that comes out of Canadian television, flying in the face of small budgets and restrictive circumstances, so I hope against hope this latest blow is just another obstacle to overcome. Unfortunately, that’s going to be harder than ever before thanks to the CRTC who is now ensuring there will be less of these talented, qualified and hard working Canadians around to work their magic.
What are your thoughts on the CRTC’s ruling? Are you worried about the future of Canadian television? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.