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Evoking Christopher Guest films and a gay Curb Your Enthusiasm, new web series seeks to answer age-old questions about love and life in Hollywood
August 5, 2016 :: 11:24 AM
If winning awards is the end game, then Those Damned Canadians has won, as the series has garnered more accolades on the web-based film circuit than any of its competition. The show has been described as a gay take on Curb Your Enthusiasm, with one critic saying of the series, “Each episode runs around eight minutes, and they’re marvels of storytelling. Each one is a chapter in an ongoing story while still featuring at least one standout scene that somehow has room to breathe in the short runtime.“
It takes a truly talented writer to engineer episodes at this length that spotlight sophisticated storytelling and feel satisfying, and that person is co-creator and actress Sara Botsford. Carrying the show on his shoulders is actor Christopher Shyer, who plays Dick Reddick, the hapless hero of the whole enterprise. Dick—who is approaching middle age and still wrestling with coming out in some respects—generates the thrust of the series’ humor.
Botsford provides a bit of background on Shyer’s character: “Since Dick was a cute little rascal, living in Toronto, dressing up in his mother’s clothes, he has wanted nothing else but to be an actor. He spent hours and hours singing to himself in the mirror, making different faces, trying on different outfits. During the summer he was a backup dancer at Canada’s Wonderland. He got small parts in TV shows, and did a lot of free theater, until he met Shelli. She was the first person to believe in him, and she is determined that he is ready for the big time. But is the big time ready for him?”
Shyer, who’s probably best known for starring in The Book of Mormon and other Broadway shows, is definitely the break out star of Those Damn Canadians. The openly gay actor says he’s drawn on some of his more challenging experiences as an actor to bring Dick to life.
“He isn’t so much guileless as naïve to the ways of the world, and he’s a very trusting character in a place that doesn’t reward trust,” Shyer says.
Consider Lynda Boyd the show’s other breakout star. She plays Shelli, Dick’s agent and housemate who is often Dick’s biggest booster but also his biggest hindrance. Rounding out the cast’s standouts is Dylan Ramsey, who plays dream-boat Brad Depp, a man full of not-so-deep thoughts.
In addition to its throw-back s to Larry David ’s beloved Curb Your Enthusiasm, the series evokes the films of Christopher Guest in that it seeks to answer age-old questions about love, life and death in Hollywood. And why are the most American of actors actually Canadians?
Botsford and fellow creator Christopher Brown drew on many of their own experi-ences when conceiving the series, and the couple continues to maintain successful careers—Brown as an VFX supervisor and Botsford as an actress, although if Those Damn Canadians is any indication, she’ll be a showrunner soon enough.
As is the case with much programming that reaches its audience via nontraditional channels, the series’ storylines and talented cast of charac-ters have more depth, subtlety and believability than the majority of traditionally crafted, scripted television series.
Equally impressive is the show’s refusal to turn any character into an object of derision. For all their seemingly vacuous vanity and ego-driven foibles, the characters of Those Damn Canadians are essentially good people. The entire series is infused with a benign joy and heartfelt warmth that is irresistible. Add the show to your must-watch list now. —Savas Abadsidis
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