With each home-grown reality series that Canada puts out, it's harder to ignore what seems to be a growing trend: Canadians don't want to watch other Canadians on TV.
On top of the scripted shows struggling to earn support from Canadian networks and their viewers, a reality series like "So You Think You Can Dance Canada" flailed in comparison to its American equivalent, while "Canada's Got Talent" was cancelled after one season. "Real Housewives Of Vancouver" may have maintained the legacy of its New York, Atlanta, and Orange County counterparts, but most other Canadian reality shows are treated like the red-headed stepchild playing catch-up to her older siblings.Daryn Jones hosts 'Over the Rainbow' this September. (CBC)
Hoping to break the chain, CBC launches "Over The Rainbow" this September, a competition series (read: a Dorothy-finding show). Following the same format as 2008's "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?", triple-threats across the country will sing, dance, and act their hearts out in hopes of being cast in the Mirvish stage production of "The Wizard of Oz." It's safe, it's (probably) watchable, and it's hosted by Daryn Jones of "MTV Live" and "The Buzz" fame. But the real question is: Will we watch it?
See also: Daryn Jones leaving MTV Canada
Obviously, this isn't a question about reality vs. scripted television in Canada. Our nation's lost a number of deserving series thanks to politics, lack of support, and lack of interest. We also know that reality TV is easier and cheaper to make, adding to the controversy surrounding various cable networks (but that's a discussion for another day).
However, while America continues its parade of bright, shiny reality television, Canada's reality offerings lack the punch and/or panache of our neighbours to the south, despite similar looks, celebrity guests, and following the exact same format. The contestants are no less talented, and while the various hosts are no Jennifer Lopez or Heidi Klum, they're still well-known in Canadian media.
But like the barrage of efforts that have fallen to the budget and/or ratings gods, Canadian reality TV struggles to convince Canadian viewers to actually watch. So pervasive is the belief that Canadian television is inherently bad that many viewers will simply change the channel in favour of American television -- even if it's a significantly lower-quality reality show ("Love in the Wild," anyone?).Citytv
However, this fall may be the catalyst. "The Bachelor Canada" premieres on Citytv on September, and hype for one of television's most beloved and loathed series seems to indicate that Canadians will tune in to watch Brad Smith's rose ceremonies in droves. This time -- and perhaps due to the franchise it's so entwined with -- slapping "Canada" on the end of the title won't act as a death sentence.
It's almost as though Canadians have become proficient in cheering against ourselves. Terms like "hate-watching" flood Twitter and Facebook during prime TV hours, and our favourite topic of discussion seems to be why we're just not good enough. But gosh darn it, we are good enough, and if the talented writers, directors, and producers that have come out of this country aren't proof of that, at the very least, our persistence to make Canadian reality TV stick has to say something.
Right now, it's not a question of choosing reality over scripted TV, or even following mob rule in terms of what does or doesn't deserve our support. It's a matter of acknowledging the work put into a series and the people behind it, and choosing to at least support Canadian entertainment. After all, if we don't, why should anybody else?