Recently, I have acquired Netflix and been enjoying access to the limited spread of television shows and movies available to Canadian consumers (Akkad, August 29th, 2012). For a light and brainless activity in the evenings, shows like Community and Futurama suit quite well. Trends in viewing amongst young people are increasingly oriented towards this form of online, on-demand, and commercial-less entertainment option (Ford, July 23rd, 2013).
Despite the seemingly limitless entertainment potential of Netflix, however, it has fairly major gaps. The Red Green Show, a slice of Canadiana and amusing parody of male-oriented-handyman antics, is not available for me as a viewer. Perhaps it’s also not available to the American consumer, but it seems strange that I can’t access this hugely nostalgic show.
While shows like Futurama contain political overtures, social commentary, and ‘in-jokes’ for nerds (e.g. “Loew’s -plex” [aleph-null-plex] movie theater – see this Wikipedia article), there is something wonderful about the simplicity of The Red Green Show. Some segments from Red Green include: The Possum Lodge Word Game, Handyman Corner, Adventures with Bill, Mall Call and The Experts, and North of Forty. Women don’t regularly appear in the show, with oblique references made to Red’s wife Bernice at the conclusion of each episode, allowing the men to frolic and indulge in activities of a stereotypically male nature (assumed to include off-the-cuff repairs using duct tape, fishing, and disorganized gatherings in the Possum Lodge).
Red’s life philosophy – “Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati”, pseudo-Latin for “When all else fails, play dead” – becomes the catchphrase for the Possum Lodge as well as the entire show (Wikipedia article). It’s a show that doesn’t take itself seriously, but its characters and tropes identify prominent (if expected) aspects of the Canadian landscape. Take, for example, the character exploits of Ranger Gord:
“Gord has worked in his watch tower for more than eighteen years without a paycheck and claims to have been a forest ranger his entire life. His apparent reason for becoming a ranger was that he thought Smokey Bear was talking directly to him in one of his famous public service announcements (“Only you can prevent forest fires“). […] Once, he thought that someone had left him some honorary medallions only to learn from Red that they were beer bottle caps (Gord thought that a Budweiser cap was for being a “bud of the forest”). On another occasion, Gord justified his lack of communication with his superiors as a sign that he was doing a “good job protecting the forest,” to which Red suggested that his superiors most likely forgot about him” (Wikipedia article).
I realize that today the most popular shows include fantasy-drama mashups like Game of Thrones or gritty tales of drug abuse and scandal as in Breaking Bad. Maybe it’s just because I grew up on the ‘uncool’ side of the popular culture fence, never joining into the latest fad with the ease displayed by my peers (my favorite show as a youth was, by far, Stargate SG-1), but I find the current selection of shows to be anemic in culture and transitory in their ability to entertain. Given that everything is a remix, we’re likely to continue to see these cultural phenomenon’s self-replicating themselves well into the future; but a part of me hopes to see new shows that humorously touch at the sociological and cultural heart of being Canadian, a benefit that we lost with the passing of The Red Green Show.