Regardless of who the next President of the United States is, The Beaverton has got it covered. The televised adaptation of the satirical website The Beaverton debuts Wednesday night on The Comedy Network with two possible lead stories. In one? The end of the world. The other? Bill Clinton is the First Husband. [Update: Armageddon it is.]
We were one of the over 100 sitting in the audience watching The Beaverton record its second-to-last Season 1 episode last week and it made for a fun night. Each of the 13 episodes finds anchors Emma Hunter (Mr. D) and Miguel Rivas (Meet the Family) and correspondents in news reporter Aisha Alfa, provocateur Donavon Stinson, financial correspondent Laura Cilevitz and foreign correspondent Marilla Wex skewering world topics.
Co-created by Luke Gordon Field and Jeff Detsky as well as website editors Jacob Duarte Spiel and Alexander Saxton, Pier 21’s Lazlo Barna and Melissa Williamson are executive producers.
“TV was always the dream,” Field says of creating an offshoot of the website for television. “I grew up on satirical television shows like The Daily Show … they were always my favourite shows. When I started writing political satire comedy, it was always in the back of my mind that it would be fun to create a TV show. I didn’t know that The Beaverton was ever going to have that opportunity and wasn’t working towards it. We were just building our name.”
Enter Detsky (Orphan Black), who noticed his Facebook friends were posting Beaverton stories on their news feeds. He immediately recognized the unique voice the site had and its reach (more than six million views in 2016) and knew it was a natural transition to television. Production on Season 1 happened in a nondescript warehouse shared by a church and the upcoming Top Chef Canada All-Stars, with Field, Detsky and 16 writers—most recently Kurt Smeaton, Scott Montgomery and Rupinder Gill—creating, doing table reads, punching up scripts and filming external bits in the week leading up to Thursday night tapings and production that has been rolling since late spring.
This is not The Daily Show. The Beaverton isn’t reacting to what happened in America, Canada or globally the day before. That, Field says, forces them to create original content not necessarily based on a headline. That frees the team up to cover stories that are always on the peripheral, like the Loonie, at a 20-year low, being swapped out in favour of Canadian Tire money.
And while Hunter and Rivas have extensive experience in sketch comedy writing, neither contribute to The Beaverton room. Instead, they’ve focused on delivering the stories and creating their on-screen personas. Rivas is buttoned-up and stiff, so unlike his actual personality, and Hunter is arrogant and braggy, totally opposite her self-deprecating humour when cameras aren’t rolling.
“We both approached it as, ‘What would make the best dynamic behind the desk and what’s original?'” Hunter explains. “Stereotypically, the story is the guy is a goof and super-funny and the girl checks him. This organic thing happened [between us] from the audition where we had this wonderful rhythm of give and take of being the straight man or having a moment and the characters evolved from there.”
“As a man, I agree with everything she just said,” Rivas says with a laugh.
The Beaverton airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on The Comedy Network.
Image via Bell Media.