Comments and queries for the week of October 14

Discussing diversity and Shoot the Messenger

Unless you’re being intentionally ironic, I wouldn’t characterize the guest cast as a “who’s who” of Canadian television. First off, you could name 10 well-established Canadian actors to most Canadians and they’d say “Who?” Second, beyond Nick Campbell your marquis names include former music and pro sports celebrities with not much track laid as actors. It smells of stunt casting to me, which is a sad commentary on the need to add ANY recognizable name to a project, regardless of their requisite skill as actors, in order to raise a show’s profile.

Last, I’m getting a little tired of Sudz and Jennifer talking about diverse casting and storytelling like they somehow have a corner on it. I don’t doubt their struggles early on with an industry slow to evolve and adapt, but diversity has been clearly part of the Canadian broadcaster mandate for a while now, they’re not the sole purveyors. To suggest otherwise demeans the efforts of a lot of industry types, both at the broadcaster and creator level, who have championed this for some time. —Canadian Showrunner


Really? You’re getting tired of me and Jen talking about diverse casting and storytelling? Are you kidding me? If you think you are tired of me talking about it, ask the reporters who lead off their questions to us with the subject. When this is the first and the last thing reporters want to talk about when talking to us—the obviously diverse filmmakers—they will write about it, no matter how much we talk about the challenges of serialized storytelling, and writing all the scripts before production and the challenges that entails for a development budget. No matter how much we talk about working with actors like Alex Kingston, Elyse Levesque and Lyriq Bent, and the rest of our killer cast, one of the main stories that people want to tell when they write about our work is around diversity. Do you honestly think that is all we have to say? Do you honestly think that we think we are the only ones doing work in this area? To write that we think that we are the “sole purveyors” of diversity in Canadian drama shows how little you question the process by how these stories are written, edited and see the light of day, which is one of the things that Shoot The Messenger tries to go behind the scenes to show. Lastly, I do not hide behind any pseudonym. When I write my opinions down on a public forum, I sign my name because I am not afraid for anyone to understand that I am entitled to an opinion, no matter what it is. Can you say the same? —Sudz Sutherland


In an industry that penalizes people for being “off message”? Yup, anonymity required.

Sudz, I’m a fan of your work, I’m a huge supporter of your determination to bring gritty and authentic stories to the public. I’m also heartened you’ve got support from a broadcaster who feels similarly. And I’m sorry you’ve been mischaracterized by the press. The tone of much of the Messenger coverage suggests you and Jennifer are somehow the lone voices at the vanguard of diverse programming and sadly, in my off message opinion, that diminishes the efforts of everyone else who is in those trenches with you. If that’s the media’s fault, then we all need to address that. Is this some white media mea culpa? If they lionize you then that makes their past dismissal of diversity somehow atoned for? I guess taking note of it, even if disproportionately, is better than them NOT highlighting it at all. But I would also like the coverage to be about the quality of the work, not just the diverse subject matter or multi-ethnic casting. What you’re doing, what many of us are doing, can’t be allowed to be talked about like it’s tokenism. If it is then it’s just some pendulum swing to make it seem like the problem has been momentarily compensated for rather than some legitimate progress being made. But maybe I’m putting the proverbial cart before the horse. I actually celebrate what you’ve achieved Sudz and if it came off as anything else then I apologize.

And Greg, I’m impressed by the main cast too. Much more than the musicians and athletes doing cameos. Maybe if the Canadian media focused more on our fine domestic actors we’d have a modest star system in the country that would help draw eyeballs to screens. But that’s a whole other topic. —Canadian Showrunner

Discrepancies in Airport: Below Zero

Just had my first chance to watch this show (Episode 2 in this case). Good show, typical reality formula but being a bit of an airplane/airport geek, this show is somewhat of an interest to me. However, I noticed a couple of anomalies in the production in regards to some inaccuracies which calls into question the validity of the show. There was a glaring error where the subtitles misquoted ground traffic control. Also, a certain type of aircraft was completely misidentified. These errors should not be happening if the show is going to be totally believable. Other than that, I’m actually liking the show. Good characters and a good view into the operation of a major Canadian airport. —Dean


Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email or via Twitter @tv_eh.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
Greg David
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One thought on “Comments and queries for the week of October 14”

  1. You want to talk about diversity in Canadian culture? Fine. “Shoot The Messenger” – Set that show in Edmonton and I’d watch it! E-Ville, River City, City of Champions, Festival City; we need a TV series set here! I’ve been a life-long fan of Canadian television and let me just confess something—I’m getting really tired of shows set in Toronto! Street Legal, Traders, Twitch City, Blue Murder, The Associates, The Listener, Murdoch Mysteries, Forever Knight? E.N.G., Degrassi, Flashpoint, Rookie Blue, Bomb Girls, Remedy, Orphan Black, Private Eyes, even Houdini & Doyle! Can we have a national primetime dramatic series NOT set in Toronto?!?? NOT in Quebec?!? NOT Vancouver? Even a show in Calgary would be nice but Alberta isn’t just cowboys and oil! There is a huge metropolitan city smack dab in the middle of Alberta with tons of ethnic communities who I think wouldn’t mind being the focus of stories for a change! (Even though, when a spate of Somali men were murdered in Edmonton, related to the illicit drug wars, the Somali community was (understandably) somewhat reluctant to talk to the police, so too the media, I guess.) But the fact that that even happened in Edmonton to me is grounds enough to set a show like “Shoot the Messenger” here. So when “diversity” comes up for discussion, don’t forget that there’s just not enough regional representation in our country’s media. I can only imagine how people up north in the Yukon, and Northwest Territories, and Nunavut must feel about being “represented”.

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