Why are Canadian shows missing from TV's new golden age?
This image released by AMC shows Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, next to the Winnebago he uses as a mobile meth lab in the pilot episode of "Breaking Bad." The series finale of the popular drama series aired on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013 Doug Hyun/AMC/The Associated Press
With plot-heavy, sophisticated shows like Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead reviving the notion of must-see TV, television writers and critics have declared that we're in a new golden age of television.
But why isn't there more Canadian content glittering among these gems, which follow on the heels of hits like The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under and Mad Men?
Listen to The Current: Where are the Canadian TV shows in this golden age?
"In this golden age — and I think there is a consensus that this is a golden age — Canada has contributed almost nothing to it," TV critic John Doyle noted, referring to a recent discussion he had with an American colleague. He addressed the issue in a recent column.
"We're underachieving. We're not good enough at that level of television. We've stayed away from it [for] of all kinds of complicated reasons, that really just are excuses for not making the very best of television," he continued.
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"We make good television in Canada — there are lots of fine shows... but there isn't a show that is at the level of Breaking Bad or Mad Men. Those shows have a psychological truth, sociological analysis that are challenging, that are provocative in their storytelling, that are as compelling a commentary on the state of the human experience today as the great contemporary novel is."
In the attached audio link, Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC Radio's The Current explores the issue with a panel of experts, including TV critics John Doyle and Rob Salem, Diane Wild, who runs the Canadian website TV, eh?, and Sally Catto, CBC-TV's executive director of scripted and commissioned programming.