By Diane Wild of TV, eh?
Touching on topics such as missing women, tainted water on reserves, and how parenting issues have a devastating ripple effect on a community, no one could accuse APTN’s Blackstone of being a guilty pleasure. But executive producer, writer and director Ron E. Scott aims for it to be a pleasure all the same.
“Our primary goal is to entertain, not educate,” he said in a recent interview. “There’s always value in wanting to speak to issues. Any great television series out there, whether it’s in Canada or the US, always has something to say. We never want to come across as comfort food. I like to call it a big steak – there’s a lot to eat, a lot to take in. Everything’s not going to be wrapped up in a pretty bow at the end of your 60 minutes.”
A member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Scott draws on his own experiences “growing up in a fairly dysfunctional part native, part white world,” and on current affairs, to keep the show relevant. But he’s particularly interested in developing an ensemble of rich characters that keep an audience, native and non-native alike, tuning in week to week.
“As a content creator, as someone who wants to tell stories, it’s important the series is accessible to everyone,” he said.
He also sees the value of accessibility from an economic standpoint – a factor that resonates given that former broadcasting partner Showcase is not airing Blackstone’s second season (or much other original programming.) “This is a business, and for that business to continue you have to penetrate certain markets.”
Michelle Thrush’s Gemini win as Best Actress in a Drama helped. “It did open the eyes of the non-native audience, because the native audience has already embraced it.”
The series has sold to New Zealand, has a US distributor, and “other deals are pending,” said Scott, but in the meantime Canadian audiences can watch season two on APTN Wednesdays, or catch up on the show at APTN.ca .