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Second Jen’s co-creators navigate the road from short to TV series

If things had gone a little differently, City’s Second Jen may never have gotten a first episode. But Samantha Wan had some luck on her side when she took her comic digital co-creation to the Banff World Media Festival.

The friend who had TV pitching experience backed out at the last minute, leaving Wan to attend the festival alone. She had no experience selling an idea, so she practiced on an iPad every chance she got. Wan hadn’t signed up to have pitch meetings because she didn’t know she was supposed to. On the last night,  she met with Lucy Stewart of Don Ferguson Productions, who told her to talk with Kevin Wallis. The pair sat down and by the end of their discussion the company had taken the show.

Debuting Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET on City, Second Jen stars Wan and fellow co-creator Amanda Joy as Jen and Mo, twentysomething Asian Canadians who move into their first apartment together. Jen’s mother Bunny (Janet Lo) doesn’t approve, but that doesn’t stop the pair, who discover taking on responsibilities isn’t without challenges. Lucky for them, fellow apartment dwellers Lewis (Al Mukadam) and Nate (Munro Chambers), are there to provide support and friendship.

We spoke to Wan and Joy about their road from digital short to six-episode series and taking a two-person idea into a writers’ room.


A lot of the stories about Second Jen has put a focus on the fact you’re Asian and the series is about Asian Canadians. Is it important for you to discuss that angle, or do you prefer to just talk about Second Jen as a television show?
Amanda Joy: I understand that there is always going to be a political context. Anytime you appear on-screen as a person of colour or LGBT, there is always going to be political context. And I think that is important to us in one aspect of our lives. And then the show, what it is is important in another way. This isn’t a show about being Asian. It’s about being in your 20s in Toronto, and two best friends who are very intelligent but also not the most experienced women about how they navigate the world. In Toronto, because it’s such a diverse city, they come from an immigrant background and many of their friends come from an immigrant background. When you take on Toronto as a setting, I feel like that will be the case and that’s part of the strength of the story.

Samantha Wan: We’re ethnic, but this is the story of being stuck in the middle between the older generation and our second generation and stuck in the middle because we’re in our 20s. I’m not in high school anymore but I don’t have my career set out before me either. Naturally, the generation clash includes culture but that’s more the conflict and what we’re picking apart.

It’s one thing to create a project as a digital entity, but it’s another to flesh out characters and add more for a television series. What was it like having a writers’ room with folks like Kevin, Carly Heffernan and Jeff Biederman?
AJ: If I’m writing by myself and I hit a wall, I go for a walk. When you’re in the writers’ room and hit a wall, somebody else will know how to pick it up. Carly is hilarious and so much fun to work with, very intelligent and kind. She gave me a ride to the subway every day. And Jeff really, really knows his stuff. When it came to the room he was able to look at structural things, inconsistencies in plot or scenes.

SW: It was nice to know there was someone who could help us navigate notes from the broadcaster. The notes were very specific and were helpful but sometimes we needed to understand exactly what they meant. Having someone who was seasoned was really helpful.

(l-r) Munro Chambers, Samantha Wan, Amanda Joy, Al Mukadam

How much of Season 1 had been plotted out by the two of you prior to being in the room?
SW: We had plotted out ideas for episodes and those were pitched to the room and to Rogers. Then we picked which ones were the most relatable and the most funny.

AJ: And then it came down to what each character was doing in each episode. Even though we’re episodic, we do have some serialized arcs.

Let’s talk about your characters, Jen and Mo.
SW: They’re kind of a combination of the both of us. They were  pretty easy to write because they have characteristics are from the both of us. Nate and Lewis are based off friends we have, but combinations so no one can come back to us and say, ‘That’s me.’ Once we cast the actors, Nate took on a little bit of a different shape once Munro was in. It was the same thing with Al as Lewis. We really wanted them to collaborate on who these characters are.

AJ: A lot of people complain about underdeveloped female characters and when we wrote the first drafts we had to go back to the male characters. What it’s like being a woman comes easily for us, but when it comes to being a guy, we’re more guessing by what we see.

Second Jen airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on City.


APTN’s The Other Side explores more ghostly stories in revamped Season 3

Jennifer Podemski is a fan of paranormal programming. Heck, she’s had her own experiences with the otherworldly. But while programs like Paranormal State interested her, they didn’t cover a wide swath of her own background.

“I was a huge fan of Paranormal State, to the point I would watch the same episodes over and over again,” the writer, producer and actor says. “Then I realized, ‘Huh, isn’t it funny that I’ve never noticed how absent this show and genre is of an Indigenous perspective?'” After gleaning that information for several years, she consulted with her Angel Entertainment colleagues Wally Start and Bob Crowe and wrote a show bible. The result? The Other Side—returning for Season 3 this Thursday on APTN—a program that has Indigenous perspectives and ways of knowing, understanding and belief systems woven throughout the narrative.

“It’s an interesting spin on an old genre,” Podemski says. “I thought it would be amazing to have something on our own network, APTN, that showcased a little bit of perspective.” Back for more experiences are intuitive Jeff Richards and elder and spirit guide Tom Charles, with newbie Michaella Shannon taking over as researcher; researcher Priscilla Wolf and investigator Bill Connelly are longer with the show. Podemski has known Shannon for years, since she was part of the supernatural drama Rabbit Fall, and in addition to being an amazing role model within the community, is an intuitive like Richards. She was a natural when Podemski was looking to refresh and tighten up the series for Season 3.


That refresh isn’t contained to the cast. The Other Side‘s opening credits have been revised and filming of the 13 episodes took place during the summer months, a first for the program. What hasn’t changed is the content. The Other Side continues its excellent storytelling, education and documentation of paranormal experiences without using cheap camera tricks and dramatic music to play up what this trio witnesses. Thursday’s return instalment, “Mr. Clark,” not only gives a history of Fort Walsh Historic Site in Maple Creek, Sask., and the massacre of First Nations people that occurred there but documents a man who may still be wandering around the grounds.

Podemski says upcoming an episode presents the most meaningful communication between a client and spirit or entity ever while another provides powerful, emotional moments at a residential school.

“One of my biggest concerns about doing [an episode] like that was that the story was told in a respectful and accurate way, that has the ability to transcend the policies around what people understand about residential schools,” she says. “These are real people that are very rarely spoken about in the Canadian narrative. It was a very intense show.”

The Other Side airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on APTN.

Images courtesy of APTN.


Mohawk Girls — Beast of a season premiere!

WELCOME BACK to the LADIES from Kahnawa:ke! It has been 11 months and one week–not that I’ve been counting–since we last got to laugh at all of your crazy goings-on. And, finally, we learned whether or not Bailey (Jenny Pudavick) said yes to Watio’s (Jimmy Blais) proposal (She said yes!). Let’s go over everything that happened in Tuesday’s Season 4 return, “Fauxhawk.” Let’s see what it means to be a real Mohawk. Who is fake and who is real? Who is denying their true self?

We pick up Season 4 of Mohawk Girls the day following Hawi’s (Adriana Garisto) near disaster fundraiser. Zoe (Brittany LeBorgne) is skulking home following an a-rousing good night at the sex club. Despite the fundraiser’s success, no one is forgiving Zoe’s disappearing act. She takes some impulsive steps to make amends but to no avail. In yet another attempt to regain control of her life, Zoe goes to the extreme and decides, “I am running for Chief!” Now I have two questions: how do you all feel about having a diagnosed sex-addict as your Chief, and how is Zoe’s mum (Tantoo Cardinal) and current Chief going to react to the news her daughter is running against her?

Caitlin (Heather White) has her own dilemma. The oh-so adorably cute, incredibly sincere Leon (played by newcomer Dwain Murphy–welcome to the family!) is committed to a relationship with her. But his lack of Mohawk blood presents a huge problem for Kahnawa:ke. Initially turning him down, Caitlin reconsiders and agrees to a relationship with the Luscious Leon! FINALLY. I have been shipping Team Cailin for what seems forever, but I also suspect Butterhead (Meegwun Fairbrother) is not going to react well to an outsider replacing him in Caitlin’s life.

Anna (Maika Harper) is trying her darnedest to get back with Thunder (Kyle Nobess). Even though he misses her, it seems Team Thana is done because Thunder simply cannot forgive Anna for her treatment of her mother (Nadia Verucci). Anna’s only consolation? Kahnawa:ke finally embraces her and has become home. But at what expense to herself? And now that she is single, what kind of trouble is Anna going to get into with her newfound acceptance?

And finally, as I mentioned at the top, we learned Bailey said yes to Watio’s very public proposal. She is wearing his ring, but she is definitely experiencing some second thoughts. Is this cold feet, or is her heart trying to tell her this is the wrong man?

A BIG SHOUT OUT to Tracey Deer, Cynthia Knight and the entire Mohawk Girls team, including Rezolution Pictures, for a great season opener! Also a Thank you for APTN: this year we get eight episodes and they are spread out over eight weeks!

Let me know your thoughts on the season opener in the comments below! What do you think our fab four Mohawk ladies are going to get up to this season?

Mohawk Girls can be seen Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on APTN.


Bachelorette Canada preps for hometown visits with tearjerker in Morocco

In the last week before hometown dates, the final five bachelors laid it all on the line for Jasmine as The Bachelorette Canada heads toward the finish line.

Kevin P. didn’t waste any time on his first-ever one-on-one date with Jasmine in Morocco, ironically discussing the rocky relationship he has with his mother after the pair successfully climbed a rock face. After hearing Drew’s patter for six weeks, it was refreshing to listen to Kevin and Jasmine be brutally honest with each other and come to the same conclusion: he wasn’t for her. Where Kevin wants to live a transient lifestyle full of excitement, Jasmine is ready to settle down and I totally respected both of them for talking so openly on primetime television.


Host Noah Cappe got some major screen time in Tuesday’s episode as he met with Jasmine to discover where her head was at prior to the group date with Mike, Mikhel and Benoit. Jasmine had already experienced a stunning one-on-one with Kevin W. that included milking cows, making bread and Kevin looking like Aladdin on steroids and cemented their strong feelings for each other. By the time she was done chatting with Noah, Jasmine had made her decision: she nixed the market group date in favour of meeting with each one on one to ask more questions before the roses were handed out.

Of the three conversations, Benoit’s was a bit stilted. That was, in part, due to Mike showing up but also because, for the first time, Benoit got serious with Jasmine about his feelings. They managed to get some more alone time, and it was then Benoit dropped the funny guy routine and told Jasmine he wasn’t willing to reveal his family to her unless she was really serious about them being a couple. Jasmine decided she didn’t want to jeopardize that and Benoit was sent back to La belle province.

Do you think Jasmine was right to send Benoit home? Who do you think she’ll end up with in the finale? Comment below.

The Bachelorette Canada airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on W Network.

Images courtesy of Corus.


TV Eh B Cs podcast 52 — Solving Murdoch

On Saturday, Oct. 1, Greg David of TV, Eh? moderated a series of panels during Unlock the Mysteries of Murdoch: The Ultimate Inside conference, held in CBC’s headquarters in downtown Toronto. Here is the second of three sessions we recorded, with Murdoch Mysteries star and executive producer, Yannick Bisson.

Listen or download below, or subscribe via iTunes or any other podcast catcher with the TV, eh? podcast feed.

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