Did you think that reality TV couldn’t get any trashier than MTV’s Jersey Shore? Well, think again.
Our favourite guidos and guidettes have some stiff competition to face as Canada shows off their own brand of party animals in Lake Shore, trying to prove that ‘there’s more to growing up in Canada than hockey and maple syrup.’ The show is based out of the Toronto area, and follows a group of eight people from eight different cultures as they ‘take full advantage’ of Toronto’s club life, pushing the boundaries, exploring their sexualities, and being generally dramatic in front of a camera and an audience of voyeurs, hungry for drama.
These eight twenty-somethings were chosen from thousands of applicants, an attempt to show ‘cultural diversity’ and how much of a melting pot Canada has become. These characters – because, in my opinion, they can’t be seen as anything other than characters – ravage the downtown Toronto area in search of sexy, fun times, and spend almost as much time bitching each other out and causing drama as they do downing tequila shots and hooking up.
Take Robyn, or “The Jew,” for example. She’s got an attitude problem and is very opinionated, which is obvious as she comments on Downtown D, “The Albanian,” and his way with women.
“He’s not confident, he’s cocky. Not only does he think every girl wants him, the fact that he thinks every girl likes him makes me not want him at all.” she cries, and her comments keep coming, much to the annoyance of her roommates.
Sibel, or “The Turk,” is particularly tired of Robyn’s talk, and makes it obvious in her own interview.
“That girl has a lot to say. Have you ever heard the term ‘put the fire out’? Cause that’s what I’m going to do.” she says. “I’m not racist, I just hate everybody equally, especially Jewish people.”
So why the emphasis on the race of the characters, you may ask? It seems that the producers of Lake Shore really want you to see just how much Toronto has become a central hub for cultural differences, and how what used to be ‘minorities’ now make up the main population of the area. More than half of Toronto’s population are those who are not native of Canada, while another 22 percent are second-generation immigrants with at least one parent born outside of Canada.
Toronto also is claimed to be ‘the home to virtually all the world’s culture groups’ and a place where over 100 languages are spoken. But if there are so many races represented in Toronto, why were these eight chosen? Why are there no African-Canadian, Native, Chinese, Sri Lankan, French-Canadian or other, smaller minorities on the show? There have been claims from viewers that Lake Shore is using racism to capitalize on ratings, and one particular viewer stated that Lake Shore has ‘tarnished the reputation of Canadians.’
“Do you understand that in popular culture, Lake Shore has literally taken a shit on Canada? At least we look decent compared to the rest of the world, we were known to be such a Liberal people, but now we’re seen as anti-Semitic, racist and all we want to do is be loud,” a viewer known as Persia says.
If the show really wanted to be ‘culturally diverse,’ it would have to have a representative from every culture in Toronto on the show. It would have to show the various lifestyles of these people, the ways they go about religion, relationships, and etcetera. But what is shown on Lake Shore is simply a chewed-up and spat out copy of Jersey Shore, minus the fake tans and clever witticisms like ‘GTL’ and ‘grenades’ that have made the show many a young adult’s guilty pleasure. The producers have tried to make the show appear like it isn’t full of subtle racism, and stabs at homophobia and intolerance.
These characters are ignorant, and seem to only care about one thing, being sexy, getting laid, and getting drunk. What kind of example does this give to the people watching this show? Sure, not all of us are gullible enough to believe what is happening in front of us, but there are still those who use these characters as examples of what they wish they could be, the kind of lifestyle they want. Lake Shore is pushing the boundaries as far as it possibly can because those who produced it know exactly what they are up against; pointless ignorance and self-obsession.
In order to one-up The Jersey Shore, they need to spin their show a little differently, bring something new to the table, something that will make people watch and give them ratings no matter the cost. It’s too bad they had to use the race card in order to make that happen. One thing’s for sure: Lake Shore may become many a voyeur’s ‘guiltier pleasure.’