Americans don’t take us serious

“The Newsroom” is often considered the greatest show Canada has ever produced, but a U.S. network feels no need to fear unflattering comparisons


HBO has, with great imagination and originality, changed the title of Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming show from “Newsroom” to “The Newsroom.” The announcement of the new title already has some fun comments pointing out the existence of another show called “The Newsroom” that somebody at the network, if not necessarily Aaron Sorkin, might have heard of.

No, this isn’t a serious affront to our own “The Newsroom.” And it doesn’t violate any rules either. (Titles aren’t under copyright.) It’s just a bit of a grimly amusing reminder that the U.S. TV industry doesn’t take Canada very seriously (and doesn’t need to). If a Canadian network wanted to make a show called “The Wire,” there would be nothing stopping them – a generic or baldly descriptive title like that doesn’t usually raise any trademark problems. But we wouldn’t call a show “The Wire” because it would create unflattering comparisons with a show that is often considered the greatest the U.S. has ever produced. Well, “The Newsroom” is often considered the greatest show Canada has ever produced, but a U.S. network feels no need to fear unflattering comparisons: assuming they’ve heard of the show, they probably think most people in the States have not heard of it.

Again, this is not a serious complaint; it’s only a title. And the test of a show is not whether it’s taken seriously in the States, but whether it’s taken seriously in its home country – meaning, “The Newsroom” is good whether or not Americans have heard of it. It’s just that I kind of thought our best export might be at least somewhat famous enough in the U.S. to scare off a new show from attaching the same title to a similar subject; I guess not, so expect to see new American shows called “Slings and Arrows” and, of course, “Kids In the Hall,” about a bunch of kids who hang out in a school hall a lot. That one is a natural for the revamped MTV.

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Americans don’t take us serious

  1. I’d never heard of The Newsroom, so I went and looked it up after I read this piece. Here’s how not-seriously it’s taken in the US. Having *just read* that it’s good from a person I respect very much, my first thought after I read the Wikipedia page was “Created by Ken Finkleman? The Airplane II guy? No way it’s good.”

    That said, I should watch it.

    • I had similar experience. I never heard of The Newsroom, Canada’s best tv show ever, either so I had to look up on wiki. And my first thought was Ken Finkleman = wanker so no way The Newsroom can be considered Canada’s best tv show. 

      I should watch it as well but life’s too short. 

      Isn’t Canada’s best tv program similar to tallest midget contests? 

      • I, on the other hand, have seen the entirety of “The Newsroom” in its various incarnations, and I thought it was frakking brilliant — even when it took a hard left into Ingmar Bergman territory.

    • that’s a bit unfair to Ken Finkleman…sure, he may have written Airplane II, but Ken Levine wrote Mannequin 2, and he is still a great and funny writer. bottom line is, if you’re a writer and need to pay your bills, sometimes you end up doing something that is probably beneath you (actually, now that i think of it, that’s true for any profession!)

      • Sure. You’re right. And like I said, it’s definitely just me being an ignorant American. Airplane II is literally all I know Finkleman from.

  2. I’ve heard of it. I’ve seen it. It’s good.

  3. I’ve read references to Slings and Arrows numerous times on US sites but never The Newsroom

  4. I’ve seen this show as well, and enjoyed it quite a bit.  I suspect that anything involving Aaron Sorkin with be ten times more annoying.  (BTW, as sequels go, AIRPLANE II could have been a LOT worse).

  5. I’m a definite fan of “The Newsroom” an would like to see a return to that sort of programming on the English-language television side but given the current government’s complete antipathy to a public broadcaster I doubt we shall ever see a return of this sort of show.

  6. Jaime,

    I’m glad you put in a reference to “The Wire” as I am a recent convert to that most amazing of shows.

    I had only seen The Sopranos and absolutley loved it but I finally just watched all five seasons of The Wire and I am as addicted to it as the people of West Baltimore are to Crack and Heroin.  It is truly the most amazing television series I have ever watched.

    I also watched Homeland which you mentioned in a previous post.  I enjoyed it and found it quite compelling although not quite up in the Sopranos or Wire league.

  7. It’s a point that needed to be made, but we must also keep in mind that Canucks can also usurp titles from each other. Let’s not forget how Canadian director Paul Haggis didn’t think twice about naming his film “Crash,” despite the controversy and acclaim surrounding Cronenberg’s identically titled feature less than a decade earlier.

    Let’s also bear in mind that Sorkin’s working title for the series was “More As This Story Develops.” So at least there was an attempt to conceive an original title.

    As for the U.S. not taking our media seriously: is this really news? We’re producing programming on a fraction of the budget and in the same language. What reason do they have to pay attention? I’m a proud Canadian indeed, but when I consider “Corner Gas” and its five-year, unopposed status as the dominant program in Canada even I don’t take Canadian television seriously.

    The only area where we trump the U.S. is news, but only because pretty much everybody trumps the U.S. at news. Seriously, it’s like beating Stephen Hawking in a game of tennis.