September 5, 2009 Leave a comment
Let’s move to Canada. Why? While the healthcare will be nice, and we’ll have the seasons, they will be extras. The real benefit will be good television, radio, and publishing. It seems as if in Canada the arts not only matter, but they are inclusive.
My ridiculous proof for this is a TV show that I stumbled upon, Maisonneuve, and radio essays that often show up on PRI. We can joke about the lackluster (a poor word for such sequined divas) Celine Dion and Shania Twain, but they are cancelled out by The Munro, and Montreal’s great charm on all who visit (I have never been).
The TV show is called Slings and Arrows, and I think it might be the best show I have seen. I say this giddy off of a Netflix binge on the first season, and I have been known to give this title lightly. I said the same about The Wire, Can’t Get a Date, Duchess of Duke Street, Berkeley Square, 30 Rock, The Daily Show, Arrested Development, Kids in the Hall, Peep Show, The Office (British), Mad Men,and years ago I was high off of Northern Exposure and Twin Peaks. All of these shows have left me breathless in what they have accomplished. They are each the best in their own bright way.
I can’t believe Slings and Arrows got made. I have never seen a script that was so odd, so unformulaed, so light, and so weighty. It is about theater, for god sakes, and it’s about Canadian theatre, no less. The show isn’t focused on setting trends. Nobody in the piece is wickedly outfitted as a cultural gatekeeper. There is commentary on art in its public and commercial space. There is a lightness in drawing the characters in three dimensions. The writers seem to be unburdened by the need to play to the balcony–and they can have a grim fun that isn’t centered on flash or ego. Yet flash and ego are present, but their creation is subtle and swift. And deft and honest and well-played. Humble is the wrong word, but there is a strong sense of confidence that carries more swagger in its apparent geekiness than the usual intricate and hip HBO offering. This is only one show, and one season of that show, but it leaves me with the impression that Canada is the type at the party that looks like an IT clerk (unironic glasses, pleated pants, bland unbranded sneakers), but who is so relaxed and interesting that they make all the people in boots, scarves and tattoos look unfortunately overwrought. Maybe they are just refreshing.
Maissoneuve does the same for me. Less McSweeney’s quirk (not that the quirk isn’t its own kind of gold), and more open conversation. Again, theirs is the party I want to go to.
We can go look at the cedars, get jobs where we won’t be millionaires, but it won’t matter, and in the summers we can wear dresses with puffed sleeves and drink cordial (I was thinking of Nova Scotia, and thus good old Anne). We can also still drive to visit the folks on this side of the border.
If the second season of Slings and Arrows doesn’t hold up, this is all subject to change.
For now, to Canada, where the firecrackers seem lovely, the air is crisp, and the people have all swum in lakes,