Burlington ... the Closest Thing to Montréal? For Jay Baruchel's New Sitcom, It Will Be | Live Culture
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Burlington ... the Closest Thing to Montréal? For Jay Baruchel's New Sitcom, It Will Be

Posted By on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 3:58 PM

click to enlarge this-is-the-end-jay-baruchel.jpg

Jay Baruchel has no immediate plans to visit the Queen City, as far as we know — in reality, that is. But in bizarro TV reality, Burlington is the Canadian comedian's hometown.

The actor's face and voice are familiar from a slew of movies, including Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder and How to Train Your Dragon. He starred in Judd Apatow's series "Undeclared" and wrote the excellent hockey comedy Goon. Now Baruchel has a deal with ABC to produce a pilot for an autobiographical sitcom in which he'll play a famous actor who chooses to leave Hollywood, return to his hometown and move in with his buds.

Baruchel really does live in his hometown — Montréal. On TV, however, his character will settle in Burlington.

Say what? Despite their relative physical proximity, last time we checked, BTV and Montréal were about as much alike as ... a small, quirky American college town and a glittering, ethnically diverse metropolis. Both wonderful towns, but apples and pamplemousses.

So ... why?

In September, Baruchel told Toronto's Globe and Mail that Burlington was simply "the American town geographically closest to Montreal ... We would have [set it in Montreal] if we could."

Reacting to the news, Montréal Gazette blogger Brendan Kelly editorialized that "It’s U.S. network television. They don’t know from Montreal, never mind NDG [Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Baruchel's west side 'hood]. They are very very afraid of setting shows outside the U.S."

Random as the substitution may seem, Baruchel's interview with the G & M indicates that he does, in fact, know and appreciate the Queen City. "[It’s] really one of the world’s weirdest places and Burlington is a very strange town, supercolourful, superinteresting," he's quoted as saying.

Here's how Baruchel explains the sitcom's premise, again to the G & M:

All he wants to do is write this 12-volume history of Burlington. So finally once he’s made all his money, he says goodbye to fame and fortune or whatever, Hollywood, moves back home to Burlington, buys a house down the street from his mother, moves his two best friends from high school in with him and — ideally — hilarity ensues.

A 12-volume history of Burlington? Hey, why not?

But the real question for BTV residents is, of course, will our "supercolourful" town ever appear on screen? As we all know, Vermont lacks a filmmaking tax credit, unlike our big neighbor to the north.

So will Baruchel really "return" to Burlington? Or to some quaint, red-brick burg in film-crew-friendly Georgia or North Carolina? Is it really possible to replicate "one of the world's weirdest places" anywhere else? Will the production team even bother to mock up a BTV landmark here and there, a Radio Bean or a mobbed City Market parking lot?

In short, will the sitcom be Burlington's long-awaited version of "Portlandia"? Or will we be subjected to a generic, Disneyfied version of our fair city that we nonetheless feel compelled to watch and nitpick every week (those of us who will even admit to watching television)?

Stay tuned.

Baruchel in promo pic from Sony Pictures' 'This Is the End.'




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About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.

More by Margot Harrison

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