Tuesday marks a sad today for the Canadian media landscape. That’s because it marks the final episode of The Rick Mercer Report will air. (Anyone remember when it was called The Monday Report….but then it stopped airing on Monday.)
In terms of beloved Canadian media personalities, they don’t come more beloved than Rick Mercer, who despite being a household name for the better part of two decades as always been able to walk that fine-line mixing comedy with politics and that inescapable Newfoundland humour to defy the odds and be well-liked and popular across political lines. I’ve tried and failed many times to be as well liked, so I know it’s not easy.
The Canadian landscape will certainly look a lot different without The Rick Mercer Report. There’s perhaps no show on TV right now that celebrate the quirks and nuances of Canada the way that show does, especially in the smaller communities.
For me, the show’s ending means we have one less gay voice in Canadian media, where there’s already so few. Without getting too cheesy, Mercer’s success has always been a bit of career pinpoint for me. Not his show exactly, although I wouldn’t say no the offer. (Who would?) But more that a gay person can be out and can become a big and important name in Canadian media. I, and so many people like me, need someone like that. If it wasn’t for Rick Mercer, I would have zero proof that there’s a career for me in Canadian media.
I wouldn’t call it something as aggressive as a dirty little secret, but the lack of LGTBQ2+ voices in Canadian media is stark and yes, depressing. If I were to think of TV or radio hosts that identify publicly as LGTBQ2+ I can think of four. There has to be more, but I can’t think of them. The number gets even smaller if I think of people who talk about having a same-sex partner, the way straight hosts talk about their husbands or wives. And even smaller if you exclude gay white males.
It was a number I took note of last year, when a Globe and Mail review of Dan Levy and the Great Canadian Baking Show basically said he was too gay to host a TV show. And since then, I’ve been keeping my eyes and hears peeled to hear LGTBQ2+ voices in the Canadian media and I haven’t been hearing much. Unless I count the wacky radio producer or garden expert.
I haven’t looked into it enough to say there’s a big conspiracy, and instead of being negative, I want to focus on how important Mercer’s voice has been for years for our community. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to turn on the TV or radio and not hear someone that shares even the vaguest of experiences as me, but every Tuesday I could turn on CBC and see someone like me on TV. That ends with the Rick Mercer Report.
Tonight, we’ll say goodbye to The Rick Mercer Report, but you’ll note that Rick’s not retiring, his show is simply ending, so I have no doubt that we’ll see him again. Until then, I hope more LGTBQ2+ voices are given a chance to shine. We are eagerly waiting in the wings.