Canada's female-led 'Baroness von Sketch Show' primed for U.S. debut
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TORONTO — It's shaping up to be a royal summer for Canada's "Baroness von Sketch Show" as the female-led foursome is set to bring its irreverent comedy to audiences on both sides of the border.
Cast members Aurora Browne, Meredith MacNeill, Carolyn Taylor and Jennifer Whalen are all back on board for the show's second season, which returns Tuesday on CBC-TV. The series will also make its U.S. debut on IFC in August.
But even with the potential of much wider viewership, there will be little change to the homegrown sketch show's signature style.
"You want to play ... the relatable dynamic, the truth that people relate to, and then ... it is an idea of subverting that or changing it, coming in at a different angle," said Taylor, who is also the series showrunner.
"We don't like it to be a pat scene that says: 'Part of society is bad and this part is good.' We like to have some nuance," she added. "We like to have our characters be fallible. And then if you embrace that, surprise endings come because you're not following necessarily a formula."
Scenarios spanning from the mundane to the extreme are explored in the new season, with one episode encompassing everything from life in a post-apocalyptic world, to a supermarket trip gone awry, and an unexpected visitor at a home birth.
"I think we try to represent as much truth as we can, and life isn't always clean-cut," said MacNeill.
"Sometimes in television, you'll have a show that's this beginning, middle and end. But with each sketch, one of the reasons it can go off in a direction is I find that's what life is like too, sometimes. You think it's going to go one way, and all of a sudden you have a bowler hat on."
MacNeill said the quartet seeks to bring a "layer of improv" to every sketch, allowing the cast to make adjustments on the fly.
"That's possible, I think, because we trust each other so much, and we also trust the performers who we're so fortunate to work with from the Toronto community," said Browne. "We know that we can go those places and everybody's ready for the ride."
The CBC announced a commitment last year to boosting the number of women directing scripted series, with a goal of women comprising half or more of all directors.
Whalen echoed the sentiments of her cast members who said representation among women both onscreen and behind the camera was both welcome and needed.
"It's just nice seeing women getting a paycheque because we get to a certain age in our careers and sometimes we just disappear — but my need to eat and feed and clothe my family doesn't.
"I'm very excited to see women getting this shot and getting the opportunity to develop their skills and to move forward in their career."
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