December 2002
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Canadian vs. US Television
By Liane L.-T., Fredericton High School, Fredericton, NB

Although I don't watch much television, I have to admit that what I do watch is mostly American. Why? Because that's all that's on.

All the "Canadian" networks basically report Canadian news between American programming. Canadian networks such as Global, ATV, ASN and YTV run many more American shows than Canadian ones. The exception to this trend is of course CBC, a station that runs entertaining and educational programming almost exclusively for and by Canadians.

One of CBC's most popular shows was the Degrassi series (Kids of Degrassi St., Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High). The show ran for many years and the plot varied, but the theme remained; here were some normal kids growing up and dealing with everyday problems and sometimes not so everyday problems. Why was the show so successful, not just in Canada, but in the States as well? The characters were followed during their growth into adults, and they acted like real kids because they were. Some had acne, bad hair (although it was the eighties), some were short, tall, thin, fat, had glasses. Some were in band or SRC. Others were homeless, on drugs, anorexic, or pregnant. It was very close to reality, and each episode focused on a specific issue and delivered a message, without being preachy.

The American versions of teen dramas involve beautiful twenty-somethings pretending to be sixteen-year olds. Even if the message is there, it's not nearly as effective because the characters aren't as easy to relate to as Joey Jeremiah or Derek Wheels' Wheeler from Degrassi.

In my opinion, the reason Canadian shows are easier to relate to is because the characters are easy to identify with, not only in their experiences, but also for the fact that they're not all fabulously beautiful. However, the only network that shows Canadian programs on a regular basis is CBC, and I think the other networks should realize that if the station doesn't support Canadian television shows, then no one will.

So, what's the difference between Canadian and American television? Canadian TV is 10% Canadian and 90% American, whereas American TV is 100% American.


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