Ryan Belleville, Leah Renee, Luke Macfarlane star on "Satisfaction." (CTV)
"Satisfaction," CTV's newest original sitcom, has earned a deserved push not just from its network, but from Canadian comedy fans. Created by Tim McAuliffe ("The Office," "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon"), and starring Luke Macfarlane, Leah Renee, and Ryan Belleville, the series melds modern shooting techniques (like jump cuts and flashbacks) with classic sitcom premises, creating a sharp, warm series Canadian viewers can be proud of."
McAuliffe, Macfarlane, and Renee spoke to omg! TV and gave us five reasons you should tune in to "Satisfaction" every Monday on CTV.
1. It assumes its audience is smart
There's nothing like a TV show that lets viewers in on the joke, so that's exactly what "Satisfaction" writers have been aiming for.
"I had this acting teacher a long time ago who said, 'always make your choices for the smartest people in the audience,'" says Luke Macfarlane. "And I think there's a whole generation of people whose minds think quickly, and they're used to consuming information a lot faster. It's not these long, complicated set-ups."
That explains "Satisfaction's" fast-paced humour, jump shots, and sharp editing. So while the show's premise leans towards that of a classic sitcom (a single person living with a couple), it still moves fast for fans to want to chase it.
"It's something I've talked about before," Macfarlane continues. "So many shows are so high concept -- they can't just be about three people living together. So I think this classic-ness is that this is straight-up relationship-[based] show, and how you can all work together. And I think the modernity comes in through how it's constructed: adjusting time, making jokes a little broader, the jump cuts, edits -- I think those create a more modern feel that I think that young people are now looking for."
2. Maggie becomes a more complex character as time goes on
It's easy in television to cast a woman merely as a romantic interest, and allow her only to embrace that role. However, Maggie's storyline has been the subject of discussion -- particularly how she will evolve over the season, and how she'll be seen as a smart, independent person.
"I feel really comfortable playing her," reveals Renee. "I remember in the beginning when I was trying to figure her out, I was talking to Tim, and he finally just said, 'Can you just be you? How about that?' [So] I think that with the character of Maggie, she's not just a pretty girl on the show who's there to fill out the show. She's really strong, and really sarcastic."
Adds Macfarlane: "We actually worked really -- especially in the beginning -- to make sure there was nothing in my relationship with Maggie that's like, 'Oh, my old lady's holding me down.' She has real problems, and she guides us and tempers the maleness of the whole thing -- in a real way, and not in a scolding way. And we do find out more about her. We all take our turns having [our storylines] and it turns out the ones that have aired so far are more Mark-centric, but Maggie gets her episodes."
"We've been trying to show the struggle of Maggie [achieving] what she wants and being in the driver's seat," he says. "She's making these decisions that everyone has to make in your 20s where you're trying to make things happen with your career while working a job you don't really like, so hopefully that will play as a theme for her this whole season.
"[And] there's a lot of Leah in Maggie's character," he adds. "She's very driven, she's done music, she's an actor, she's very involved in social issues and animal rights, so there's a lot of her in this [role]."
3. They're not afraid to bring the laughs -- on and off the set
"The last three episodes, there is a dome that comes over the entire apartment," McAuliffe says, jokingly referencing the sitcom's biggest competition, Steven King's 'Under the Dome' series.
"So we've responded to the popularity of 'Under the Dome' by doing that. And they're going to be on an island -- that's whole second season," McAuliffe quips. "And there'll be a monster, yeah."
We wish! But even better, is that fans can look forward to a few Jason Priestly-directed episodes, as well as guest appearances from "Mad Men's" Jessica Paré and "Dexter's" Geoff Pierson.
"Priestly just directed a couple, and there's a wedding episode, and it's awesome -- it gets so awesome," McAuliffe confirms.
4. "Satisfaction" explores the simplicity -- and hilarity -- of everyday situations and relationships
Like "Seinfeld" and its premise of nothing, "Satisfaction" explores the subtlety of basic relationships -- like the one McAuliffe had with real-life friends Ben and Claire, whom he roomed with years ago.
"Hopefully there are universal themes that go through it, like relationship things," he says. "A lot of people talk about this show not having a huge premise, but 'Seinfeld' didn't have a huge premise, 'Cheers' didn't have a huge premise -- life doesn't have a huge premise. You go into it, you interact with people, and stories come from that, and that's what we were trying to do with this show through relatable situations. Instead of a situation like, 'he has three months to live and these are all the friends he's going to make.'"
"The funny thing about our show is that our characters don't really develop so much because it's very situational," says Renee. "It's more about their lives and the things that they get up to, and how their relationships progress. Maggie basically deals with the same things in the first season -- how to get to the next level. If there is growth for Maggie in the first season, it's very subtle."
"All these people like each other," adds McAuliffe. "And yeah, they get on each other's nerves, but they all enjoy each other's company. And that's how it is in real life: you hang out with people you want to hang out with. And that's what I wanted to do with this [series], is show this closeness there, and go with that."
5. "Satisfaction" could represent a shift in the way Canadian television is promoted received
Thanks to CTV promotion (and the support of cast members of fans), there's been a strong push for viewership. This is important, since Canada tends to lose interest in Canadian programming quickly. However, if the current "Satisfaction" campaign is successful, it could prove the effectiveness of Canadians (and networks) actively getting behind their own series.
"I think we all feel very strongly about contributing to Canadian television in a really positive way," explains Macfarlane. "I think something that gets in the way of Canadian production is 'why didn't you go to the States?' Which is a terrible self-defeating attitude. It may be more of an identity crisis in that because we're so close to the States, we don't know how different we are. I don't really know what the difference is other than perception on part of the viewer in that it's not American, and that somehow makes it cheaper. Which I have to say is not fair. And I also feel so proud and pressed that CTV is really taking the opportunity to invest tons of money into creating content that is Canadian and will be competitive with American budgets."
"The second I read [this script], I just really responded to not just the character of Maggie, but the entire script as a whole," Renee says. "I just knew it was something I needed to be a part of. It was funny, it was Canadian, I liked that it was set in Toronto. It's the best experience. It's my last day of filming, and I've already cried three times. There needs to be a Season 2. There needs to be."
"Canadian comedy's always been a hard sell domestically -- though not all shows," adds Macauliffe. "There's been a lot of starts and stops recently, so hopefully we can get the whole dynamic going because it's good! I think we can have the renaissance of Canadian comedy."
"Satisfaction" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV.
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- Luke Macfarlane