Two Quebec series stand out abroad for their diversity. Six degrees and The side effect are finalists for the Diversity TV Excellence Awards at MIPCOM in Cannes, which celebrate inclusion in television.
Telling the story of Leon (Noah Parker), a visually impaired 16 year old, the comedy-drama Six degrees is selected in a category called Disability – Scripted (Handicap in fiction). Offered on Tou.tv and broadcast last spring on ICI Télé, it faces two TV films: Welcome to adulthood (France), an offering from TF1 which tells the story of a young woman with Down’s syndrome of 20 years who dreams of independence, and Christmas Ever After (Canada), a Lifetime Network Christmas romance featuring an author in a wheelchair.
Also from Radio-Canada, The side effect is cited on the side of productions for adolescents. She confronts Lockdown – The Confession (Canada), a YouTube-hosted mystery series that portrays a group of friends in the midst of a pandemic, post-George Floyd, and FYI’s Kidversation (UK), a weekly newsletter for young people.
Quebec adaptation of a format from the Netherlands, The side effect plunges viewers into the heart of a Montreal high school.
Make things happen
Reached by telephone, the author of Six degrees, Simon Boulerice, admitted that he was very touched to see his work so illustrated outside the borders of Quebec.
“I wanted to make a series that focused on inclusion. I always said to myself: “When I write my first series, I want to feel invited to the wedding.” Because when I was younger, I didn’t always find myself on TV. So I wanted to deploy a multitude of diversities in the same series. “
I wanted to highlight inclusion when talking about grossophobia, pansexuality, cystic fibrosis and, of course, visual deficit.
Simon Boulerice, author of Six degrees
In addition, Simon Boulerice welcomes the MIPCOM Diversity TV Excellence Awards. According to the author and director, their existence could “make things happen”.
“Maybe in a few years, we won’t need to organize these kinds of initiatives anymore, but for now, they are welcome. It’s like when we talk about creating quotas. Sometimes quotas are painful. We don’t always agree at the start, but it’s just to shake things up. These prices will perhaps awaken some authors more to deploy their gaze a little. I know that to write, you have to start from yourself, but it’s something you can do by being connected to the other. ”
Still a long way to go
Discussions surrounding the lack of representativeness on Quebec television have been in the headlines for several years. That a foreign jury charged with saluting diversity on the small screen selects two series from Quebec shows that our industry is making progress, underlines Diane England, producer of The side effect at Zone 3.
“We still have a way to go, but we still have more diversity now than we had five years ago. As a producer, today, I would never dare to present a cast without ethnic diversity. It is unthinkable! I also sense this concern among my colleagues. The proof ? There has never been so much color in our shows. And when I watch series that come from elsewhere, from the United States or Europe, I see the same thing. We better represent today’s society. ”
The team of The side effect stepped up efforts at the start of the adventure, in 2019, to build a diversified distribution that reflected the reality of schools. Diane England claims to have met 300 to 350 young people in audition.
We didn’t just want multi-ethnic diversity; to reflect reality properly, we wanted a diversity of body, gender, style… Radio-Canada was also keen on it.
Diane England, producer of The side effect
A third representative
A large international market for TV content which brings together professionals from all over in Cannes every year, MIPCOM 2021 starts on Monday and ends on Thursday.
Another Quebec production could be awarded a prize. The webseries I would like to be erased with Julie Perreault is selected in official competition at the fourth Canneseries television festival, which is in full swing until Wednesday on the sidelines of MIPCOM.
Directed by Eric Piccoli (Public Writer) and adapted from the novel of the same name by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, I would like to be erased is offered on Tou.tv. Over eight episodes, it recounts the journey strewn with pitfalls of three young people from the Saint-Michel district in Montreal.