The latest in reality fare in Canada is the ill-conceived show called “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” Apparently it is based on similar shows, done by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, to cast major roles in new live shows. On the surface this seems like a good idea – get the people who are ultimately going to pay to see the show help to select the leading woman for the role.
The format works like most of these kind of shows. Singers compete for votes and the bottom two (or three depending on the week) have to engage in a ‘sing-off’ and then Simon Lee, the Lord’s music supervisor, can ‘save’ one of the Marias. He appears to find this task very difficult and last week he even said he was ‘gobsmacked’ by the results of the vote.
As time goes on it appears that they have already decided who they want to be Maria. For all intents and purposes they seem to have chosen Janna. Now, this poses a problem – how do they make sure that they are able to get rid of all the competition. Donna is a good example of how we are being manipulated. She is a bit heavier than the other Marias but she has an amazing voice, she connects with the audience and she can act. Clearly, she gets enough votes, week after week, to stay in the competition. So last night they dressed her in a god awful peasant dress and gave her a slow song to sing. It seemed that all of the women who sang slow songs got panned. But Donna nailed it. She has a beautiful soprano voice and she had all the emotion and vulnerability they are looking for. So, how do you solve a problem like Donna? Well, if you are Elaine Overholt you decide to dress her down, on national tv, telling her that her ‘diva’ like behaviour and blaming others will not be tolerated. Usually on these shows when something like this happens there has been footage of the offending behaviour – not in this case. It came out of nowhere. I am left to conclude that they do not want Donna as their Maria (likely because she is not a wisp of a thing) and they are trying to affect her votes.
Even the sing-offs don’t make sense. Last week Allie and Jayme participated in a sing-off of “Another Suitcase” from Evita. Hands down Allie was better than Jayme but Allie went home. If this continues the show will lose even more credibility.
Perhaps the worst thing for me as a feminist is that they constantly refer to the Marias as girls. Given that the youngest is 19, most of them left their girlhood a long time ago. I am not sure why almost all of these shows have this in common. They do it on Canadian Idol and on So you think you can dance. They don’t do it to the men who are often referred to as guys. It is monotonous to say the least.
Then there is the host – Gavin Crawford. He makes me mental. He is not in the least bit funny and he dresses funny. You think given that the Lord is involved that they of gotten somebody good like Rick Mercer. At this point I am not even sure that someone like him could save this mess show.
So the real question is why do I continue to watch? It is kind of like a train wreck – I seem to be unable to avert my eyes.