Movie Reviews, TV Reviews

What to watch while social distancing: Canadian TV

Welcome to day four of social distancing TV watching.

Let’s talk about the TV industry for a second.

I work in TV. I’m an Associate Producer and Researcher. Sometimes I do cast care and wrangle. I’ve worked on over a dozen different productions and absolutely love what I do.  I most recently worked on a really cool new kid’s show that premiers TOMORROW on BYU called ‘All Round Champion’.

We wrapped last week and I was SO excited to get back to the city and jump into new projects and productions. But with covid-19 all that has changed. Almost everyone I know in the industry is now unemployed. Productions have stopped and with that work has stopped. The Globe and Mail did a really great write up about it here. It’s a big deal to have the industry stop:

“According to the City of Toronto, production investments in film, television, digital and commercials contributed $1.96-billion to the local economy in 2018. That same year, 1,412 projects were shot in the city, with the industry supporting about 30,000 jobs.”

The majority of production teams can’t work from home – we don’t have desks. We work in teams. We can’t social distance, so we’re just not working.

TV is mostly gig jobs – contracts to contracts. While we normally have ups and downs, this feels different. None of us know when the next contract is coming and that’s scary. I had brunch last week with a friend in the biz and we both worried about how much of a ripple effect this might have.

To me, TV can be silly escapism. But not this week.

For a lot of you – TV has been the escape you need right now. It’s the thing that’s keeping you going day to day – an episode to look forward to tomorrow. Work is stressful, life is stressful – but TV isn’t.

I’m proud to work in an field that helps people relax and feel less stress.

My stress about finding work next doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Today I’m just glad the rest of you get to relax 🙂

So today we’re going to support Canadian TV.  We make good stuff.

My list of things to watch is LONG (and I cut stuff). I’ve tried my best to organize it by where you can find it, but a lot of the CBC stuff is also on Netflix.

Like always – let me know what you end up watching 🙂

CBC Gem:

Still Standing
Vibe: Even in hard times, things work out.
Basic Plot: Each episode, Jonny Harris travels to a different hard hit small town in Canada. He meets the people who keep the town going and make it special.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: Of all the shows I’ve worked on, this is the one I’m most proud of. The season I was the AP hasn’t been released yet – but I shared an office with the Still Standing team while they worked on Seasons 4/5 (while I was on Stats of Life). Support your girl and my co-workers and watch this charming Canadian show 🙂 PLUS – this is a show about hard times, we’re in hard times. You’ll get inspired.

Being Erica
Vibe: ‘What if’ dramedy
Basic Plot: 30-something Erica has a therapist who can send her back in time to have ‘do overs’ in her life.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: This is a really cozy show. But as you sit by yourself you’re probably having some existential thoughts and some of your own ‘what ifs’ and this will fit in nicely. There are four seasons for you to dive into.

Baroness Von Sketch
Vibe: Screwball feminist sketch comedy
Basic Plot: The four incredible Baronesses (Meredith MacNeill, Carolyn Taylor, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen) put together amazing bite sized sketches about everyday life.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: Vogue said “The Baroness Von Sketch Show Is the best thing to come out of Canada since Ryan Gosling,” and this is accurate. You need a laugh and these women will have you rolling on the floor with laughter. Plus – this is another Frantic Film’s show – so support my co-workers and watch this show 🙂

Schitt’s Creek
Vibe: Trendy comedy
Basic Plot: The ridiculously wealthy Rose family goes bankrupt and the only asset they have left is a small town called ‘Schitt’s Creek’. So, the family packs up and moves into the town’s motel. Watching them adjust to their new normal is a joy.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: You’ve heard the buzz, it’s time to get caught up. Become a little bit Alexis and dive head first into a bottle of wine and lean into this sitcom. You’ll be glad you did. Starring Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy, and Annie Murphy – this is truly a ‘best in the biz’ Canadian cast. You’ll be proud that the CBC commissioned this.

Kim’s Convenience
Vibe: Workplace/Family comedy
Basic Plot: A Korean-Canadian family owns a convenience store in Toronto. They deal with their customers, each other and life in Toronto. Hilarity/heartwarming engery ensues.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: This is such a wonderful Toronto production to support for so many reasons. First off – it started at the Fringe and grew into the CSA winning TV show it is today. Secondly – I’ve had multiple friends work on this production and all rave about how wonderful everyone on the cast/crew is. Thirdly – this is a show about people coming together which is really what we need right now.

Workin’ Moms
Vibe: Mom comedy
Basic Plot: Catherine Reitman and co are working moms just trying to do their best. Hilarity ensues.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: People LOVE this show. I’m not one, but that’s because I haven’t given it enough of a shot – but during this period of quarantine, I might get into it.

Anne with an E
Vibe: Dark Anne of Green Gables
Basic Plot: It’s Anne of Green Gables with a slightly darker take. Stars the incredible Amybeth McNulty.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: You’ll watch all 3 seasons of this show, then you’ll fall in love with this show, then you’ll have time on your hands to join the #renewannewithane campaign that is going on strong right now.

X Company
Vibe: WWII historical drama
Basic Plot: A group of spies – X Company – work with the French resistance to help take down the Nazi’s during WWII. X Company is based out of Ontario, but has Canadians, Brits and Americans all working together. Each episode they have a specific mission, but it all feeds into the larger series’ long defeat the Nazi’s plot/maybe there is a slight hint at romance too.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: Well at least we’re not in social distancing due to a war… but again, like Band of Brothers – we’re going to sit on our couches and watch TV to help protect our elders who were involved in this war. This show also gets bonus points for me because of the strong female lead – Aurora Luft – played by French-Canadian actor Évelyne Brochu.

Cable

Big Brother Canada
Vibe: Addictive Competition Reality
Basic Plot: A group of Canadians are isolated in the Big Brother House. Each week, the house eliminates houseguests with the goal of being the last houseguest standing to win the $100 000 prize. Airs three times a week with various comps and eliminations.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: The house guests are trapped in isolation and so are you. This is a juggernaut in the Canadian reality tv biz and most people in the biz have worked on this show at one point or another. My first ever tv job was on S3. This show employs so many people so it’s worthy of support 🙂 This is the 8th season and so far, it’s been a solid season. This show is airing currently – and has only aired 7 episodes (as of March 18th) so you have time to catch up.

Nurses
Vibe: Hospital Drama ft. Nurses
Basic Plot: Move over shows about doctors – it’s time for the nurses to shine. This show focuses on five new nurses in Toronto and follows their cases, but also their personal drama.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: WE LOVE NURSES! What I mean by that is that we love all of the ACTUAL nurses in the world and this show tries to give them a bit of love and credit for all they do. As you sit at home social distancing and watching nurses – text the nurses in your life. They are working HARD right now and need a lot of love. Plus – if you loved Rookie Blue, this is made by the same people.

Transplant
Vibe: Hospital Drama ft. Doctors
Basic Plot: An emergency medical doctor from Syria starts over in Canada. As CTV says the show is about Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed “finding his place in a new hospital and country”.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: We love ALL medical drama and this one is great so far. It’s brand new – only 3 episodes so far, so you’ll be ahead of the trend and have something new to talk about when you facetime your friends for the 10th time.

Crave

Mike on Much
Vibe: TV podcast
Basic Plot: Mike Veerman (who worked at Much), Max Kerman (lead singer of the Arkells) and their pal Shane Cunningham (also works at Much) take their ‘Mike on Much’ podcast and make it into a TV show. Expect chats, interviews, and wacky bits.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: I love the podcast (the pod is GREAT) and the show is fun. Watch it for the sole purpose of knowing what I’m talking about when I ramble about the adventures of mike/max/shane 🙂

Letterkenny
Vibe: Peak Canadian
Basic Plot: The small rural town of Letterkenny is full of interesting folks including the hicks, hockey players, skids, and natives.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: Smart, funny, wicked fast – this show is peak Canadian. Embrace it and lean into it. Grab a beer out of that large LCBO stash and hang out with the boys.

19-2
Vibe: Serious Cop Drama
Basic Plot: Squad car 19-2 responds to crime in Montreal. Staring Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: Watch the French or English series both are phenomenal – but really I just need you to watch the school shooting episode – ep 1 of season 2 in the English show. I think it’s one of the greatest episodes of Canadian TV ever made. It is simply incredible.

Netflix

Bon Cop Bad Cop
Vibe: Bilingual Cop Movie
Basic Plot: An anglophone from Ontario and a francophone from Quebec join forces to solve a murder. Dark hilarity ensues.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: It’s a Canadian Classic. As you watch the french-english buddy cop dynamic just think about Doug Ford and François Legault trying to buddy up to solve this covid crisis…

Heartland
Vibe: Horses and Drama
Basic Plot: I’m going to be honest here – I’ve never seen Heartland, but I do know it’s about Amy Fleming, her family and her horses.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: Are you a 12 year old Canadian girl? Do you have a 12 year old Canadian girl in Quarantine with you currently? Do you want to forget 2020 and go back to being 12 years old? Then this is THE show for you. It has a whopping 13 seasons so you’re inner 12 year old will be entertained for a looonnnnggg time.

Frontier
Vibe: Jason Momoa fur trade drama
Basic Plot: Jason Momoa is hot a fur trader and tries to breach the Hudson’s Bay Company’s monopoly in the 1700s.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: You love a historical drama, you also love Jason Momoa – so why not?

Alias Grace
Vibe: Margaret Atwood historical drama
Basic Plot: Grace is in jail for the murder of her employer and housekeeper in 1843. Grace claims she has no memory of the murder and Dr. Jordan tries to find the truth.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: The book was a Giller award winner, the show is a CSA winner, written for the screen by Sarah Polley and directed by Mary Harron this was a BIG DEAL show. You might not be in ‘jail’ but you might feel like it cooped up in your house. You’ll watch this and be glad you are not actually in jail at all.

Wynonna Earp
Vibe: Cult favourite feminist/queer drama.
Basic Plot: Honestly I have no idea – but people are OBSESSED with this show.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: It feels a bit like the Canadian buffy – but maybe that’s a stretch. It’s a MAJOR cult favourite and if you like fantasy/sci fi/Supernatural westerns this might be for you.

When Calls The Heart
Vibe: Mountie Romance
Basic Plot: In 1910, a young teacher gets stationed in a mining town in rural Alberta. Drama ensues.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: You’ve got nothing better to do, might as well curl up with this lifetime/hallmark style show.

The Handmaid’s Tale
Vibe: Margaret Atwood dystopian drama
Basic Plot:
Why it’s great for Quarantine: Shoutout to the Toronto crew who makes this show happen, to Mags the Canadian brain behind this show, and to all the wonderful Toronto locations. Maybe it’s not that great for quarantine because it’s dystopian and we are very much living in a dystopian pandemic right now but I still say support Toronto productions.

Riverdale
Vibe: Angsty teen drama
Basic Plot: Archie and the gang but make it less about going to football games and more about solving murders while murders chase you. Also most of the adults in town are psychopaths. Meanwhile, the teens all hook up. It’s not very pg…
Why it’s great for Quarantine: FIlmed in Vancouver, made by a Canadian crew – this show is wild. Archie and Jughead are hot, Veronica and Betty are wonderful. This is a very hip show with the kids so by the time you’re done quarantine, and caught up on the show you’ll be hip with the kids.

Suits
Vibe: Lawyer drama
Basic Plot: Mike Ross has not passed the bar – yet ends up as an associate at a prestigious law firm after impressing Harvey Specter. The two need to keep Mike’s ‘not a real lawyer’ a secret and this is where it gets fun.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: Really we’re all here for Meghan Markel. And while you dream about exiting your house, you can remember a time before Mexit. Another production that a bunch of my friends have worked on over the years. Support that Made in Canada stuff!

The Umbrella Academy
Vibe: Quirky comic book
Basic Plot: Based on The Umbrella Academy comic books, a ‘family’ of superheroes come back together when their father’s death. This sets off a series of events…
Why it’s great for Quarantine: If you like comic books or quirky shows, this is a great show to watch. Staring Halifax’s Ellen Paige and filmed all around the GTA with a Canadain crew – a good chunk of the fun is playing ‘where in Toronto did they film that’.

Mean Girls
Vibe: High School Classic
Basic Plot: Really? Do I really need to explain this one? It’s about LiLo and Mean Girls written by Tina Fey. It’s amazing.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: FUN FACT – this is a VERY Canadain production. Staring London’s own Rachel McAdams and filmed in the GTA with a Canadian Crew. Be proud of this Canadian made classic!

I Do Re Do
Vibe: Reality Wedding show
Basic Plot: Jessica Mulroney – aka Ben’s wife and Meghan’s bff – helps couples re-do their weddings.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: By March 22nd (when it comes out) you’ll probably have seen everything else out there, so this will be a fresh new show for you to watch. I know a bunch of the crew who worked on this and they all raved about it – it should be very good.

Not Streaming but I know you’ll find it…

Rookie Blue
Vibe: Grey’s Anatomy but with Canadian Cops
Basic Plot: Five rookie cops join the Toronto Police Force. Each episode there are cases to solve, but the heart of this show is the personal drama between these cops and the will-they-won’t-they Sam+Andy plot.
Why it’s great for Quarantine: This was one of the all-time great Canadian TV shows. Watch a few episodes and you’ll be hooked, get to S1 ep 7 and you’ll be addicted. You’ve got 6 seasons of pure joy. It’s great for quarantine, but really this is just a great show all of the time.

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