government of canada

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What is "The City"?

by Chris Blank

from the creative minds of Pierre Sarrazin and Suzette Couture comes a show that is trying to be both cool and an evening soap opera at the same time.

CTV's The City is a show about Toronto. Not only a cross-section or subculture but the whole thing.

With this in mind we can expect to see a large cast of characters who each play a specific role in the contemporary city. We have the priest, the homeless man, the politician, the single mother, the business man, the immigrant, the native guy, the cop, the drug dealer, the drug user, you get the picture. If there is a character type they have missed so far just watch. It is bound to come up in a future episode.

It's television. It's supposed to be entertaining and sometimes moralizing


Reason states that anyone trying to make such an absurdly representative television show would sit down and jot down who comprises the city. What the real task would be is to make these characters interact in meaningful, interesting, and most of all entertaining ways. This they have done.

Of course the show is cheesy and cliché ridden at times as a result of this. For some of these characters it is a tight squeeze to have them interacting together.

Some of the heavy handed lines are ones like, "Money has no history. Money has no morals," or "You get the city you deserve."

Or how about this life lesson we get from the Politician Catharine (played by Torri Higginson) when she is asked "What really matters?":

"That unless a man has a job he doesn't have a last name. That you can actually go hungry on welfare. That the person who's most likely to help you when you're down and out [dramatic pause] is someone else down and out. And that the people who can afford to drive expensive cars can't look you in the eye."
It is this type of dialogue which is both necessary to show character growth and annoys the heck out of me at the same time.

On to themes! We have wealth/poverty, faith/lack of, redemption/damnation, church(sanctuary)/streets(Hell), and several more to come.

This is the point at which a viewer could become super critical of the show. But what's the point? It's television. It's supposed to be entertaining and sometimes moralizing. It's supposed to take us through the 10-11 pm Tuesday night time slot with humour and intelligence.

There is also one problem with my evening soap opera comparison. If The City keeps killing off its cast at this rate the show will end awfully soon.

As for how truly it portrays real life in Toronto I can't say. I suspect there are people just like these characters somewhere. Whether or not they really exist in Toronto is irrelevant.

Chris Blank is a Vancouver based minimum-wage slave who does not suffer Toronto envy
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