It has almost all the right elements. CBC’s How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?—in which starry-eyed von Trapp hopefuls vie for the role on-stage, Survivor-style—pits talented, young, handsome (to say “hot” would be heresy for the Julie Andrews role) competitors against each other and their own young aspirations.
A name-brand theme (The Sound of Music); a name-brand judge (musical mogul Andrew Lloyd-Webber); a recognizable host (This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ Gavin Crawford); and a perfect time slot (8 p.m. Mondays) should make TV magic.
Crucially, and tragically, the CBC must battle one show-sinking element: Canadians. All the competitors, true to their national, stereotypical form, are nice. In reality TV-land, nice doesn’t just mean boring, it also means unwatchable, a death knell for youth audience-desperate CBC.
As a certified reality TV fan, I highly suggest the CBC keeps an eye on the HDYSAPLM , Facebook discussion forum page where programmers can learn the true substance that makes a elimination-based competition show sing: bitchiness. In the discussion forum, Toronto’s Leslie Pendergast wrote:
“Not only were they [the dresses] really ugly but they all seemed to be way too small and not the right style/cut for each of the girls body types. I was also really annoyed with how unprofessional the show was...simple rules of performance:
1) don’t have any bra straps showing
2) make sure you wipe down your arm pits before going on stage, you don’t want black fluff
3) have all the microphones headsets working
4) practice with the tella prompter so the host doesn’t look like a tool”
There we go! That’s the kind of bitchiness good reality TV promotes. Vancouver’s Chris Thomas chimed in on host Gavin Crawford:
“It was...pathetically bad hosting. If you compare him to Ben Mulroney on Canadian Idol or Cat Deely on So You Think You Can Dance or Brook Burke from the Rockstar series he is just plain bad....I find him exceedingly annoying and trite.”
I mean, can we get this stuff on-screen, too?
Because the truth is, no one wants the winning Maria to nicely sing her way to the top. We want catfights. Maria versus Maria, make-up running, hair flying, a look of horror on Lloyd-Webber’s distinguished face, Gavin Crawford cowering in the corner for safety...
Or can they at least call each other “fat”?
Ay. Maybe that’s asking too much. But, there’s a long way to go on the show. As the polish rubs off, perhaps we’ll be treated to a little Canadian behind-the-back snakiness.
Until then, here are your two local competitors (according to CBC’s page on their website) from among the top 10.
Jayme Armstrong (24) is originally from Richmond, B.C. and currently lives in Vancouver. She always had childhood dreams of being a professional jockey, but her talents on the stage have led to an accomplished career including roles in productions in Toronto, New York City, and Los Angeles. She starred in the Hollywood production of Ruthless! The Musical and received an LA Weekly award for Outstanding Comedy Performance.
Elicia MacKenzie (23) is from Vancouver, B.C. and almost decided to pursue a career as a registered massage therapist, but decided to follow her passion for performing arts instead. She obtained a diploma from Capilano College and has never looked back.