As ‘Schitt’s Creek’, ‘Kim’s Convenience’ ends, Canada TV seeks new success
All eyes will be on the Canadian television industry over the next month or so as major players such as the public broadcaster CBC, Bell Media, Rogers Sports and Media and Corus unveil their initial 2021-2022 plans. But this year, with the end of big hitters like “Schitt’s Creek” and “Kim’s Convenience,” the pressure on networks to find the next world-facing series is palpable.
The initial season follows one of the most tumultuous years for Canadian television in recent memory. In September, the final season of “Schitt’s Creek” made Emmy history sweeping through all major comedy categories, further solidifying its place among CBC’s most successful shows of all time.
Three months later, the public broadcaster was on its knees as filmmaker Michelle Latimer, producer and director of one of her most exciting new shows, “Trickster,” was not of Aboriginal descent, as she claimed. had asserted. The series, which had started airing on The CW, was canned at the end of January despite an earlier renewal of Season 2.
Then there’s the “Kim Convenience” of it all. The CBC series was poised to become the nation’s most beloved export with continued success on Netflix and the cast of its lead role, Simu Liu, in Marvel’s upcoming film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of Heaven”. ten rings ”. But the show was abruptly canceled in the middle of its fifth season as executive producers announced they were moving on to new projects.
Add to that the recent CBC export cancellation, “Frankie Drake Mysteries”, as well as “Burden of Truth” and the sketch comedy “The Baroness Von Sketch Show” coming to an end, and the slate of CBC – the broadcaster with the most Canadian music content of any Canadian channel – has some gaping holes to fill.
The question of where Canada’s next major global export will come from is complex, however. The Canadian film and television industry is fueled by grants and public funds as opposed to the private studio system, making it more difficult for projects to get the green light.
Adding to the degree of difficulty: the rules of the regulator of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and limited time slots on large networks anchored by American acquisitions. With Netflix and Amazon Prime moving to the Far North for future content and a sea of new series and movies on streaming services every day, it’s easy to be cynical about the next chapter of the game. Canadian programming.
Fortunately, Canada has always had a penchant for niche content with a strong point of view that also feels universal. According to some, this can be essential when thinking about the next international success story.
Shows like “Schitt’s Creek” and “Kim’s Convenience” agree with international audiences because they “are so incredibly relatable but different,” says New Metric Media president Mark Montefiore, whose hit comedy “Letterkenny About residents of a rural Ontario community, which streams on Hulu, is also on its way to international stardom.
“They’re just as broad as they are niche, and that’s the chemistry needed for international and national success,” says Montefiore.
Adds Beth Janson, CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television: “Canada has always exceeded our weight when it comes to niche content. One of the main impacts of the internet is the ability to reach niche audiences and entertainment. It can be a basic business model, and it really changes the industry in Canada a lot because people realize that we are creating content that can resonate around the world.
Janson reveals that Canadian producers should look to the internet and other social media spaces to recruit new talent in the years to come, especially as creators take control of their own content and deliver it in unconventional ways.
“He’s the genius of it,” Janson says, citing Ontario-born YouTube star Lilly Singh who burst into mainstream television with NBC’s “A Little Late With Lilly Singh” as an example. recent. Janson also reported that some of the shows were being tested on CBC Gem, CBC’s tragically unrecognized streaming service. “These creators who write the next big shows are trying to get noticed online, so it’s not that hard to find them.”
Gregory Taylor, associate professor in the Department of Communication, Media and Film at the University of Calgary, points out that one cannot discuss the success of shows like “Kim’s Convenience”, which has been adapted from a play, or “Trickster,” based on the book by Eden Robinson, without looking at the broader Canadian artistic communities, including theater and publishing, where such projects have established fanbases.
“None of these areas work in isolation,” Taylor says. “It’s part of a larger arts ecosystem in Canada and in many ways these shows are proof that these different sectors feed and feed on each other. And sometimes we get a really good shot of it. But you can never guarantee these things.
Tara Woodbury, Vice President of Development at Sphere Media, is optimistic about this talent and what it means for future Canadian projects, especially in the BIPOC communities. Woodbury believes viewers are in the market for shows with heart, which she says in abundance in the Sphere medical drama “Transplant” about a Syrian refugee doctor starting a new life in a Canadian hospital. The show was renewed for a second season on NBC late last year.
“There’s a big new wave coming out of Canada,” says Woodbury. “The advocacy work carried out by BIPOC TV & Film is incredible. To use “Transplant” as an example: to have a Muslim on a network show, I just don’t think that happened some time ago. But the data speaks for itself and the audience is there. We’re going to see different points of view like this at the heart of these future shows. “
Given that, the optics behind the upcoming CBC spin-off “Kim’s Convenience” “Strays,” starring the show’s white character Shannon Ross (Nicole Power) and directed by one of the white producers of the original series (Kevin White), is not great. However, “Strays” was in development before “Kim’s Convenience” creator Ins Choi stepped down, canceling the broadcaster’s plans to introduce the spin-off through the Mothership program. The broadcaster was also sure to reveal that he had covered “Run the Burbs,” a half-hour original comedy starring “Kim’s Convenience” star Andrew Phung, at the same time as he was announcing “Strays” . A CBC representative was not available for an interview at press time.
“Kim’s Convenience is a big loss for the CBC,” says Taylor, who notes that the broadcaster was instrumental in the success of the shows, developing and retaining many of its series early in the seasons – long before viewers had seen it. discover the following microphones in streaming. like Netflix: “There is no doubt that they were successful. It’s the one they developed and it’s gone. They must therefore hope to have something to replace it. “
Woodbury says: “We all have to think, ‘Are the shows we’re working on going to get through? We must all strive for excellence and a strong, memorable television. It starts even earlier than development: first we have to make sure that everyone has access within our industry and break down those barriers so that everyone with a story to share feels they can enter.