Next on The Anti-Social …

It’s hard to get more stereotypical Canadian TV industry than this: The Social’s social media is anti-social to Canadian performers.

The daytime talk show, which “was conceived and developed to deliver a unique Canadian voice to the CTV daytime schedule, in addition to providing custom opportunities for CTV’s advertising partners,” launched with some fanfare about its use of social media to engage with viewers in real time.

As long as those viewers don’t try to engage with them too much, apparently.

From February 3-14, 2014 comedian Mark Forward waged a campaign – more like a running comedy bit — to be on The Social.  His tweets directly to @TheSocialCTV numbered at most 2 a day, plus replies to his followers – many fellow Canadian performers – who also joined in on the conversation, often with the hashtag #putmarkonthesocial. He did a hyperbolic countdown of the days they’d ignored his tweets. And sometime during or after that time, they blocked him and fellow comedian Pat Thornton.

Most of those tweets were intended to be humorous. Some were more pointed — and valid:


I’m no comedian – even my mother doesn’t think I’m funny — but I bet I could come up with a few sociable responses they could have used to join in on and diffuse the joke early on. “Sorry, we only book guests through Snapchat.” “Have your people call our people.” Or, perhaps: “Get yourself a CTV show or find fame in the US first.”

OK that last one might not have gone over very well. But in life it’s feed a cold, starve a fever and on social media it’s feed an engaged follower, starve a troll.

Don’t believe me? Here’s some social media advice from Hootsuite: “Social media is a public place. Allow it to remain open and respond as best you can, even to those who would speak negatively about your brand. Just responding will help shift perception back into the positive.”

Just responding. To a non-hostile follower who is begging for a response. At best not responding to and blocking a non-troll is bad social media practice, at worst it’s contempt for homegrown talent.

Executive producer Michelle Crespi is unrepentant. She says those behind the Twitter account knew they were dealing with professional comedians, and she maintains that blocking with no response was the right course of action since “the tweets were excessive and became a distraction on our account.”

Too many tweets. Mentioning their show. Absorb that for a minute. A show that encourages people to tweet at them (“whether you agree with us or not”), to tweet them segment ideas, a show that sends out a media release with the headline “No topic is ever off-limits!”, can’t handle a handful of jokey-to-civil tweets from Canadian comedians and their fans in a day.

@TheSocialCTV still hasn’t addressed any of the tweets, including my question asking directly why they were blocked. They have apparently unblocked the performers, and @CTV_PR set a far better tone with good-natured peace offerings … after John Doyle of the Globe and Mail retweeted the question to them.

The Social’s season three has been picked up in some US markets, but Crespi claims the show has not had to change its focus for an American audience and estimates that 85% of guests are Canadian (she’s counting the hosts, and to even approximate the math she must be counting them daily). She also says she’s proud to showcase Canadian talent to an American audience now.

With every media release they send out, they list some of the notable guests who have appeared on the show. That list in its entirety is “Jessica Alba, Drew Barrymore, Zach Braff, Kelly Clarkson, John Cleese, Lena Dunham, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, Daniel Radcliffe, and Chris Tucker.” Spot the Canadian? Trick question – there are none. I’m told they will rectify that on the boilerplate soon.

Is the show reflecting what Canadians care about by talking about Obama not wearing his wedding ring or if you judge Tom Brady for supporting Donald Trump, and nothing on the recent Canadian leadership debate? Maybe. But the day after the debate they discussed an Ohio teacher’s porn career, an American company marketing makeup to men, how to mimic red carpet hairdos, cake decorating tips, and finally, an Amazing Race Canada recap. (Also a host saying “On this show all of us are big fans of social media.”)

I don’t know that Mark Forward would make a great The Social guest. But if you have to be Jerry Seinfeld to have weight on The Social*, and American politics takes precedence over Canadian, and if the social media aspect is a farce, why do we need The Social as well as The View?

The show is indisputably a Canadian series — it’s an in-house CTV production featuring Canadian hosts, crew and experts. It does have Canadian performers as guests — particularly featuring Bell Media talent or Canadians on American shows. But it could learn a lesson or two on social media, and on being more social to Canadian talent and Canadian viewpoints.


* The original version of the post implied Canadian comedian Nicole Arbour appeared on The Social for her fat-shaming video, but she was simply a subject of a best dressed list. 


17 thoughts on “Next on The Anti-Social …”

  1. This anti-Canadian movies and tv and people ‘treatment’ has been going on since the 1890s. Today there’s over 3 MILLION dual-citizen Americans who own, control, and run everything in Canada, and they call all the shots. Thus even alleged full 100 % Canadian movies and tv shows are “American”. But even when the very few are “Canadian”, they either suck, or are killed as quickly as possible. It’s been 125 years of being f’d up the whazoo by Americans, and way past time to stop it, like the Australians have done very successfully.

  2. This show infuriates me. I really thought that The Social would be a Canadian voice – yes with an entertaining slant and the odd American reference, but they aren’t. They try to look American: rarely mentioning Canadian cities, people, landmarks etc., not talking about the Can. election, but going on about the US election 13 months away, not mentioning Canadian newspapers, but stressing US ones, Oscar winners not Can. Screen Awards etc. Need I go on. One day, when Melissa had to mention a Canadian city, she said “Winnipeg,Canada”… yep, just like the Americans do. They could do so much to promote Canadians, but they don’t. It’s insulting that they see Can Con as less interesting, compelling or attractive than other (US) content. Is our Canadian identity that shameful? The way this show hides it, yes. Let’s stand up for Canadian content. Come on ladies of the Social stand up for Canada. With the CBC dying a slow death how will we see our brothers and sisters across the country. CTV is good with CanCon with Canada AM but awful with The Social… and don’t even get me started with E Talk! With the new CRTC rules coming up (no Can Con for day time) will this show even survive?

    1. I wondered that too about the daytime changes – I suspect they have to appeal to an American market to have a hope of surviving, but they deny they are trying to appeal to an American market.

  3. Well I had a whole thoughtful comment about how it sounds like despite hyping social, they’re not resourced enough. Making a harried production team do more than they can is what leads to exactly that kind of shortsighted decision making. I expressed that better and wittier the first time but then your comment mod system told me I was spamming and ate my comment.

    So in closing: that other Denis is not me. The End.

    1. I’m sorry the comment system ate your comment. Maybe it didn’t recognize you as legit because you’re giving them an excuse they wouldn’t give themselves and it wondered where’s the rant and who has taken over this Denis’ account?! I wanted to write something about the business need to appeal to an American market, or their reasoning about Canadians caring about US politics over our own, and hoped they’d see in hindsight they could have handled the social media thing better, but they were having none of it. Their hindsight is no different from their shortsight.

      1. Okay there’s a bork in your code. If you try to sign in using Twitter/Wordpress it says your comment is spam and spits it out.

        That shortsight line is killer.

        I’m a bit weirded out that someone posts under a pretty uncommon spelling of my name to make an anonymous point. I know it could be coincidence, but it’s weird.

        But not as weird as Johnny One Point who’s back with the same point about the conspiracy of three million dual citizens who secretly run everything. WHERE IS MY MEMBERSHIP CARD, WHAT IS THE HANDSHAKE? Need it now!

        1. It’s not an anonymous comment – first names only are legit and you guys don’t get to see it but his email gives his full name. You’re not the only Denis in town.

          Thanks for the tip – not sure what’s going on but I’ll get it fixed.

          1. Great. Odd coincidence then. That’s fine. I know it seems silly but I’ve heard broken telephone stuff back about stuff I supposedly said — including someone complaining about me on Jesse Brown. (Never been on Jesse Brown.)

            You know…can showbizzzz.

            Great articles last couple days. You’re making your case for punditry!

          2. Thanks, and not silly – I assumed it was you until I saw the email (plus you usually don’t just use your first name and it wasn’t really your writing style). But I don’t want to force people to use full names either. Besides I tend to blame you for everything whether you said/did it or not ;)

  4. The initial promotion of the show and the inanity of the hosts were enough for me to be completely disinterested from the jump. Those airheads know that having a smart, funny comedian on will just expose what a empty, wind bag of a show they’re doing. The Social, The View, The Talk are all wastes if air time and money and the continued dumbing down of women. I’d like to see a show talking about real issues with real women. Who cares about emulating Yankee talk show shit as that is all The Social is doing.

  5. Thanks for this Diane. This, and other shows, make me crazy with their lack of Canadian support. They only want to book ‘names’, but how do actors/singers become ‘names’ without exposure.

  6. I’m American and I love Canadian comedy. Honestly American comedy is such boilerplate garbage right now. Comedians in Canada are doing amazing and innovative things – there are so many excellent podcasts and shows that can be accessed online. I wish more people knew and were more supportive.

    1. This is an increasingly familiar cant. The biggest fans of XCompany are the international fans, including the Americans. There’s a national shrug we never get over — and if a show like the Social isn’t there to break Drake before Drake is Drake then I have no idea what it is there for, really.

  7. The Social is a crap show that I’ve watched maybe twice but generally I stay away from daytime talk shows altogether. Since the advent of the Dvr, if I watch TV during the day it’s usually shows from my Dvr or lately. A lot of Power and Politics.

Comments are closed.