UPDATE: Further research has indicated that I have made a critical error. CTV is not directly involved with Lake Shore, they were merely involved with interviewing the producers. A broadcaster has yet to step forward and provide full funding for the series, and as such the following rant is based largely around a hypothetical bogeyman.
Here is a wake-up call for those short-sighted enough to think that Sun TV News symbolized the modern devastation of Canadian television. A recently released “sizzle reel” has revealed that CTV’s long-rumoured knock-off of MTV’s obscenely over-exposed reality series, Jersey Shore, is not a joke.
For months there has been word of auditions being held for a sorry attempt at mimicking Jersey Shore. The video, which surfaced last week, shows that the production is not only authentic, but is also just as sorry as anyone could have expected. The new series, suitably dubbed Lake Shore after the conveniently named area of Toronto, is expected to follow the same general format of its progenitor series, which I’m sorry to say needs no introduction. However, instead of following the douchebauchery of sex-crazed and unclassy Italian-Americans, the series will instead adopt a more diverse format with a multi-cultural cast. While on paper this may inspire thoughts of tolerance and acceptance, this change only seems to further influence the creative use of racial epithets and cruelty between the cast members.
In case you can’t bring yourself to watch the eight minute video, the colourful cast of absolutely authentic characters includes Sibel the Turk who hates “everybody equally, especially Jewish people,” Joey the Italian (or “No. 1 WOP” as he calls himself), Downtown D the Albanian (because he’s always downtown), and Anni Mei the Vietnamese, who is apparently very “animated.”
The fact that the video appears to have been put together by former content producers for CityTV only rubs more salt into the wound.
Lake Shore is a prime example of almost everything wrong with Canadian television. Rather than fostering innovation and creativity or providing superior alternatives to American dribble, tax payer money is being used to create a laughable imitation of an already laughable American program that one would hope more Canadian viewers would be above watching. Whether they’re expecting this version to resonate better with Canadian viewers or simply be successful enough to justify its production and fulfil a bare minimum of annual production requirements is unclear. But it doesn’t matter. In either case, Lake Shore highlights just how futile it is for commercial broadcasters to be receiving money from the government to produce original content. CTV not only receives a huge amount of money from the Canadian Television Fund, but fights for it on a regular basis. While that money may have put towards at least ostensibly honest intentions by non-commercial broadcasters, CTV isn’t even pretending to justify it.
At least with Jersey Shore we can just laugh at it or ignore it. With Lake Shore, we have to pay for it. If that doesn’t prove that the entire concept of government-subsidized content has become broken beyond repair, I don’t know what will.
Why Jersey Shore has become so popular in both the United States and Canada has also been something of a mystery. It is sometimes alleged that the extreme amount of backlash and criticism the series receives for its absurd depiction of racial stereotypes and lowest common denominator appeal simply reinforces and strengthens its seeming omnipresence within the public eye. Incidentally, I expect a sincere thank you for the free publicity that I have given this production by even posting about it at all.
This has never been more appropriate.