Does Canada’s ‘The Social’ go beyond ‘The View’?
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
The Social is Canada’s latest foray into reality television, taking the form of a daytime talk show. Airing on CTV, The Social is hosted by four Ontario-based female media personalities, Melissa Grelo, eTalk’s Traci Melchor, InnerSPACE’s Cynthia Loyst, and blogger Lainey Lui. The goal of this talk show is to tackle current subjects that affect both men and women (mainly women), with a major emphasis on audience interaction via social media.
The key thing to keep in mind is that The Social is trying its best to stay “current.” Unfortunately, staying current apparently means analyzing selfies, being amused rather than horrified by the concept of “revenge porn,” and literally keeping up with the Kardashians. At least, that’s what I gathered from the show’s premiere, which aired last Monday, September 2 (Labour Day, which co-host Grelo actually mistook for having something to do with the act of birth).
The hosts promote the idea that their discussions are fueled by comments viewers make via social media—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or otherwise. While comments are made by actual people and read live, unfortunately, the added touch of virtual interaction doesn’t amount to much. The hosts appear to decide which comments appeal to them while discussing a specific topic, which oftentimes means interrupting each other’s point to read out a majority-friendly viewer response.
As someone who frequents many nerdy crevices of the Internet, I have seen the concept of live personalities interacting with social media responders actually work well. Really, the concept works best when the viewer can see all the posts being made—negative, positive, or plain old trolling (the hosts of The Social pick and choose privately from personal tablets)—as it presents the feeling that ‘the Internet’ truly is another entity getting involved. What makes seeing the comments better is that the viewer knows the host is seeing exactly what the viewer is seeing, and, from discussion going on in a live board, can actually see when a pivotal moment in discussion is taking place.
What might be truly disappointing about The Social though is—as a women-centric talk show—how little serious discussion is actually had. Either the women are tackling a serious topic (again, such as revenge porn) with the depth and maturity of high school seniors, or they simply adhere to stereotypes. “How?” you might ask.
In The Social’s premiere, an entire nine-minute segment is dedicated to “the art of saying no.” Now, in terms of modern women living in a still somewhat anti-female culture, the term “saying no” really only applies to the topic of sexual assault, especially at a time when “Blurred Lines” is such a hit. However, to the women of The Social, what they are referring to is etiquette; how to be proper and ladylike in terms of socializing. In the world of The Social, the hardest thing a woman apparently has to say “no” to is dog-sitting:
“Dog-sitting is hard to say no to even though it’s a big (and often inconvenient) favour.” – ‘Jessie Anne’ via Facebook. The hosts then discussed the quote.
Watching that particular segment was unbearable because, as a viewer, I could tell how heavily they were walking on eggshells in terms of their wording. Their inability to actually address the subject of sexual assault peaked at the use of the phrase “Taking one for the team,” by which they were referring to being nice to co-workers who annoy you.
There was another nine-minute segment dedicated to fall fashion, something I would have appreciated were the models not immensely tall and thin. The choice of models is even more confusing when looking at the varying body types of the four hosts; looks people must be aware were chosen on purpose for the sake of the supposedly different types of women-viewers investing in The Social (and don’t get me started on the amount of man/husband talk).
The Social is not nearly as loud and obnoxious as something like The View, to the point where I would say it’s inaccurate to deem The Social simply “The View: Canada.” That being said, The Social isn’t aiming for a particularly intellectual audience either. All I can say is how disappointed I am that a daytime talk show being aired by Canada at this point chooses to forgo groundbreaking discussion so that it can settle for mediocrity.