The Canadians do several things better than the US: health care, multiculturalism, apocalyptic post-rock, pro wrestling. Unfortunately, spectacle isn't their strong suit -- like anyone who has the appropriate instincts to magnify the vapid drama of reality tv is already mucking around in Hollywood. My biggest impression of Canadian reality programming comes from the first episode of Canada's Next Top Model, the production values of which and the sense of drama of which were so dire that even a competent and at times fierce Project Runway Canada couldn't erase the amateurish, public-access image I held for it. But... GOODTHINGTHEYCANDANCETOMAKEUPFORIT, whooooo!
See, that's the kind of fakeout that our wintry Northern cousins seem fond of. They were either laboriously tenuous (Tre) or senseless non sequiturs (Jean-Marc), though Luther was refreshing low-key and Blake -- BLAKE! -- mostly avoided being a douche (something he couldn't manage while he was on our show) and was the straightest shooter on the judges' panel.
Generally, the production and styling of the So You Think You Canadance is jarringly sedate, but it more than makes up for it in quality, even during the auditions. Which begs the questions: why does Canada get a good-to-bad audition ratio of 10 to 1? Are we Yankees so trained renowned for our taste in talentless excess that the people in charge of shows can force-feed us train-wrecking spectacle without fear of turning us off en masse?
I blame the American Dream, that Yankee silliness that says we can be anything we want to be through hard work, though in this century substitute "anything we want to be" with "famous for 15 minutes," and "hard work" with "a reality show." (Does Canada have a national myth?) Even though American consumer culture tries to express itself through narratives, spectacle is often the dominant commodity. Spectacle is nearly instantaneous, after all, formless and without the careful tracks laid down by narrative, and what's more, it doesn't require specific talents, just shamelessness.
Anyway, Canada's top 20. There's a female krumper, Natalie, who gives me chills. And it includes a certain Melanie B., so Canada wins for additional Spiciness.
Indie rating: Janelle Monáe – "Many Moons"