Hello and happy Canada Day! On this day of national pride and celebration, we Canucks deck ourselves out in red and white maple leaves and run amok yelling pleasantries and kind words at one another while downing flagons of maple syrup and chanting “EH? EH! EH?!”. Okay, so not all of that is true, but I will let you choose to believe whatever you want. The truth is, today us Canadian’s celebrate the unification of the British North American lands into the true north, strong, and free nation of Canada on July 1, 1867. We are a young country, but we are a great country.
I usually take these ‘Canada, Eh?’ articles as an opportunity to highlight some of my favourite Canadian born and bred television talents. This time, here at TVRage, fellow Canadian writer Robert and I have assembled to talk about our favourite Canadian television shows from the past and present.
Robert's Pick: 'Degrassi'
I don’t think any discussion of Canadian television could be complete without at least some mention of ‘Degrassi.’ While the current version of the show is about to begin its impressive 13th season premiere on July 11th, I must fully admit that I don’t watch it. It may be very good television for others, but there’s just something about being over the age of 30 where teen-drama is no longer relatable.
On this day, when good ol’ Canadian nostalgia runs rampant, I like to remember back to the days of sitting around with my two older sisters and watching ‘Degrassi Junior High’ and ‘Degrassi High.’ Watching the original series was family time as we watched these familiar faces return to our lives every week. As kids, these storylines provided insight into events that we viewers might experience in our near future.
Degrassi was such a stark contrast to the other teen-dramas on TV at the time, which were mostly after school specials played by pretty actors pushing their way into their mid-twenties. Kids on the show looked like the ones I saw in my own school--they hid no blemishes, and plenty of the kids were strange looking (although maybe we can blame this on fashion of the late-80s, early-90s).
More importantly, the issues were real, and treated without any kind of cartoonish attitude, or everything-is-gonna-be-okay sentimentality. Over the years topics included: death, abuse, alcoholism, drug use, and suicide. That’s right, they featured suicide, and not completely off-screen. I was only eight when I watched that episode!
But I want to get away from some of the darkness of the show, since it is Canada Day, and there are plenty of lighter moments to reflect on. There was the band for Joey, “Snake,” and “Wheels,” called the Zit Remedy, which was a delightfully bad garage rock trio. There were the couples: Joey and Caitlin, “Snake” and “Spike,” and “B.L.T.” and Michelle. And then there was the teacher/principal Mr. Raditch, who was always the adult voice to give kids direction. He also rocked an awesome, very Canadian moustache.
Strong characters make any show great, and Degrassi was a school full of them. If the show had a central character, it was Joey Jeremiah. He was more than just the typical class clown. When he had to deal with a learning disability keeping him held back a grade, he had to mature quickly. Christine “Spike” Nelson had to mature even before Joey. After her pregnancy at age 14, “Spike” needed to decide whether to keep her baby or put it up for adoption. She carefully chose the former, knowing full well the difficulty with balancing school and taking care of her baby.
We watched all these characters grow throughout their teen years. We saw them at their lowest moments, their highest moments, and everything in between.
‘Degrassi’ is a show that deserves a moment of our reflection as we lean back in our Muskoka chairs and enjoy this holiday.
Rachel's Pick: 'Rookie Blue'
There are so many genuinely fantastic Canadian made television shows out there, that I thought I would highlight one that is fairly new to the scene and has made a good impression on me. I have two words for you: ‘Rookie Blue’. This is a Canadian television show that I was created with viewers like me in mind.
‘Rookie Blue’ is just the kind of Canadian television being made right now that we can be proud to boast about. With an almost entirely Canadian cast and crew, this series is a look into the exciting world of rookie cops in one of Canada’s most thriving metropolises: Toronto. Oh, and did I mention the series is also shot on site? One of the world’s tallest free standing towers, the CN Tower, can be seen in the background of many shots alongside the colorful and diverse background that each street and neighbourhood of Toronto provides. Canadian cast members like Missy Peregrym, Gregory Smith, Matt Gordon, Noam Jenkins, and Ben Bass bring an easy realness to the characters and draw you in to their stories.
Perhaps my most guilty pleasure of this show is the romance. OH, THE ROMANCE! I am an embarrassing sap and huge sucker for the love triangles, complicated relationships and romance. Andy and Sam on ‘Rookie Blue’ are exactly this, and I can’t get enough of it. They are young, they are attractive, and they are endlessly frustrating.
‘Rookie Blue’ has been called the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ of the cop drama world (as a long-time ‘Grey’s’ fan I guess it is no surprise I am drawn to this show like a moth to the flame). I truly believe, however, that a this series is a fantastic example of good Canadian television. ‘Rookie Blue’ brings a little bit of something for everyone to the table. Do you like chase scenes, explosions and tense stand-off’s involving deadly firearms? No problem! Are you a fan of extremely likeable characters, comedy and relatable storylines? Sure thing! Do you bask in the ooey-gooey goodness of drama, love and relationships? Step right up! On top of all this, ‘Rookie Blue’ is a Canadian series with an American feel. It has the cinematography, acting chops and gumption to go to bat at the same level as some of America’s most expensive and sophisticated television drama’s.
Now in its fourth season, ‘Rookie Blue’ is a television show that I feel demonstrates how far Canadian TV has come so far. Will it break records and go down in history as the best Canadian television show of all time? No. Is it incredibly entertaining, engrossing and Canadian? Hell yeah! If you are looking for a series that is modern, entertaining and uniquely Canadian all at once, you should check out home-grown cop drama ‘Rookie Blue’.
Happy Birthday Canada, eh!
What are some of your favourite Canadian television shows?
Michael Cera < Previous | Next > Cobie Smulders