Earlier this week, TV Guide reported that after one season, CTV has cancelled "Satisfaction," another Canadian show that -- like "Picnicface,""Almost Heroes," and even "Hotbox" -- got the premature axe, leaving another void where an original, home-grown series could be.
Why do Canadian shows keep struggling? Is it the networks, or is it the audience? Is it the series writers or a disconnect between the creator's vision and what we as viewers see on screen? Well, here are five possible reasons why "Satisfaction" didn't work out.
1. A misunderstanding between viewers and the show
From the get-go, there seemed to be a disconnect between what the series was about (a man living with his friends -- who were in a relationship --and the goings-on of their inner circle) and how the show was marketed: as a quirky show with a unique, eccentric type of humour. Neither of these are a bad thing, but they paint two very different pictures, and are two very different things.
If "Satisfaction" had been packaged as a sitcom that reflects the show title itself (ex. the "Satisfaction" of one's living arrangements, lot in life, etc.), it may have found a wider audience. But from the previews, it seemed to be almost sketch-oriented (which didn't exactly align itself with the title) -- which is fine, if that's what the end product was. It wasn't. Would you expect a show called "Satisfaction" to revolve around the wacky hijinx of a couple and their roommate? Probably not.
2. "Satisfaction's" brand of comedy was unique, but arguably not broad enough
Though that's not to say "Satisfaction" wasn't funny. It was unique, it tackled the problems of being a poor twenty-something (without the "pity me" aspect), and it featured performances by Canadians comedy heavy-hitters like Ryan Belleville, Pat Thornton, and Nikki Payne. It even attracted bona fide stars like "Mad Men's" Jessica Paré! But the same argument could be made for the failed "Picnicface": the jokes may have been smart, but too niche for a mainstream network. On a U.S. station like IFC it may have translated, but on a network that sees ratings highs through the likes of "Two and a Half Men," connecting with only a "comedy buff" audience isn't going to win over the 40-and-up viewers.
3. Canadians are watching U.S. networks
Point blank: Canadians are watching U.S. shows on U.S. networks. Whether through their TVs or their computers, they're tuning into networks like IFC to watch "The Birthday Boys" or into FX to watch "Louie." And because we're watching the work of Americans, we're neglecting the talent up here. Despite the legacy of "Kids in the Hall" and "SCTV," we still look south, hailing our comedians when they appear on an American series we recognize -- all the while, driving comedians to the States because we don't watch what they make up here.
4. Canadian TV has become stigmatized
It's because of failed TV shows that Canadian networks and what they produce have become stigmatized. "Satisfaction" is another example: with the already "yeah, well, I'll believe it's good when it's renewed" attitude running rampant, shows like "Satisfaction" don't get a chance, since they're already starting from a negative placement. In order to stick around, they have to dig themselves out of a hole, then win over enough fans to warrant renewal, asking them to achieve even more than equal-quality American debuts.
5. Lack of marketing
But how can original Canadian programming be expected to perform when its network isn't exactly rallying around them? Take a look around any Canadian city's intersections and you're likely to seebillboards for U.S. programs on Citytv ("New Girl," "Super Fun Night," "2 Broke Girls"), and original CBC series ("Republic of Doyle," "Murdoch Mysteries"). Where was the push for "Satisfaction"? Why not inundate us with marketing to pique our interest? And why not market it accurately, as a show about the adventures and misadventures of a group of twenty-somethings figuring it out?
Support for and a connection with a series is important, but everyone -- networks, showrunners, and viewers -- has to be moving in the same direction to pull Canadian TV out of the its funk. "Satisfaction" may be gone, but hopefully Canadian audiences will soon find another home-grown series that will satisfy.