Published On: Wed, Mar 14th, 2018

Canada is making interesting TV and films so why have a stodgy awards show?

The Show: 2018 Canadian Screen Awards

The Moment: Catherine O’Hara’s speech

“This is the third win for Catherine O’Hara,” the announcer announces, for lead actress in the comedy Schitt’s Creek. O’Hara arrives onstage. “Wow, I’m going to cry,” she says. “This is ridiculous. Thank you.”

“I’m sorry, I really didn’t expect this,” she continues, while unfolding her prepared speech. The audience roars.

Then, over-enunciating, she reads: “Wow. This is ridiculous. I’m going to cry. I really didn’t expect this.”

Article Continued Below

She folds up the paper. She says, “Thank you.” She walks off, a human mic drop.

This was the night’s first award and I became unduly excited. Maybe everyone would upend the proceedings as brilliantly as O’Hara! Maybe this would be the world’s first meta awards show! But then … no.

It did get me thinking. Canada is making interesting TV and films, which deserve to be celebrated. But surely we can come up with something more original than this stodgy awards show model, with its regimented routine of carpet-host-presenter-nominee quintet-clip reel-speech. At this point in the year — at this point in history — we’ve seen that enough.

Canada has stars; it’s time to own up to that. O’Hara, Tatiana Maslany, Sarah Gadon, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee: the statues they won on Sunday were not their first. The late Gord Downie, the retiring Rick Mercer and Peter Mansbridge: we like them, we really like them and it’s good to say so. 2017 was the year of Margaret Atwood so yes, by all means, get her onstage.

But what if we could craft an awards show for them, for us? One that lauds the old guard for hanging in and introduces shiny new talent, but using an entirely new format? I keep thinking about my other favourite moment of the night, the off-kilter way that Tabby and Molly Johnson honoured their brother, the actor and director Clark Johnson. As they poked fun, told stories, sang a song, I felt “the industry” shrink to family-size. It felt like there really was a Canadian entertainment community.

We want to celebrate Canadian achievements? Let’s stop doing a pale imitation of U.S. awards shows and start doing something closer to what O’Hara and the Johnsons did, something uniquely ours.

The Canadian Screen Awards aired on CBC. Johanna Schneller is a media connoisseur who zeroes in on pop-culture moments. She usually appears Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)


Leave a comment

Canada is making interesting TV and films so why have a stodgy awards show?