Acclaimed CBC/BET drama 'The Porter' will not receive a second season
TORONTO — The creative team behind the CBC and BET Plus series “The Porter” says there’s not going to be a Season 2 of the acclaimed historical drama.
Executive producer Jennifer Kawaja commented on the state of “The Porter” shortly after the series scored a leading 19 nominations for the Canadian Screen Awards on Wednesday.
Kawaja says that CBC greenlit and supported a second season "until the bitter end" but the U.S. network BET Plus decided to pass on backing additional episodes.
She says that their production company Sphere Media attempted to find a replacement backer in the United States and Britain, but networks chose to pass due to a lack of interest in "the Canadian point of view,” of Black North American train porters.
CBC general manager of entertainment, factual and sports Sally Catto said in a statement they are "disappointed that the producers will not be able to move forward on Season 2 as planned." Catto said they are thankful for the "opportunity to bring this groundbreaking and little-known story to Canadians.”
BET plus didn't respond to requests for comment.
Kawaja says that the Canadian media industry needs more money to support its own stories.
“We need more money in our system, otherwise we're just going to be making stories that could exist anywhere — they won't have a sort of grounding in who we are as a country,” she said.
“Whether it's through any show or a drama like this, I think that the issue exists, regardless of genre, but obviously, it exists more with this kind of show."
We're having to run around the world with our hands out saying, please, can you fund our story? Because England doesn't do that and France doesn't do that," she added.
Set in 1920s Montreal, Detroit and Chicago, the eight-part hour-long drama tells the story of Black train porters who fought for change by attempting to unionize for safer working conditions.
Among its CSA nominations are nods for best drama series, best production design and costume design, boasting a level of detail fit for a period piece.
Season 1 features a cast of international talents such as award-winning actor and executive producer Alfre Woodard and British-born star Aml Ameen and was backed by a largely Black Canadian creative team, including writers and showrunners Marsha Greene, Annmarie Morais, and co-creator Arnold Pinnock.
Pinnock described the ending of the show as painful and “very, very disheartening," but added that he hopes the industry vote of confidence that comes with the CSA nominations will compel networks to support more shows like "The Porter."
“When we come together, we can accomplish great things in this country of Canada, but there's no doubt that it was soul-crushing,” he said.
“There's going to be so many more stories, period or temporary of a BIPOC nature that will come out of this, and if this show managed to that and get 19 nominations, then even though we're not getting a second season, that's a success.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2023.
Noel Ransome, The Canadian Press