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Montréwood’s 10 hottest sitcoms and TV drama series (#77)

A couple of days ago Le journal de Montréal (one of Montréal’s largest daily newspapers) published an article highlighting 10 sitcoms and TV drama series (téléromans in French) which draw in over one million viewers per episode.

This post might be of added interest to Anglophones who want to better their French, since many of the programs listed below are shown across Canada on television.

The viewership numbers given are strictly for television views, and do not include online views (which would boost the numbers even higher).

1st Place:  Unité 9 – 2,130,000 viewers per episode.

Radio-Canada every Tuesday at 8:00pm.

Official website: http://unite9.radio-canada.ca/

Wikipedia (French only, but feel free to use Google Translate):  click HERE 

2nd Place:  Yamaska – 1,500,000 viewers per episode.

TVA every Monday at 8:00pm.

Official website:  http://yamaska.tva.canoe.ca/accueil

Wikipedia article:  click HERE

3rd Place:  Toute la vérité – 1,300,000 viewers per episode.

TVA every Monday at 9:00pm.

Official website:  http://tva.canoe.ca/emissions/toutelaverite/accueil

Wikipedia (French only, but feel free to use Google Translate):  click HERE  

4th Place:  Complexe G1,230,000 viewers per episode.

TVA every Wednesday at 9:00pm.

Official website: http://tva.canoe.ca/emissions/complexe-g/saison1/concept

Wikipedia article:  None.

5th Place:  Au secours de Béatrice – 1,170,000 viewers per episode.

TVA every Wednesday at 8:00pm.

Official website:  http://tva.canoe.ca/emissions/au-secours-de-beatrice/

Wikipedia article:  None.

6th Place :  Mémoires vives – 1,165,000 viewers per episode.

Radio-Canada every Tuesday at 9:00pm.

Official website: http://ici.radio-canada.ca/tele/memoires-vives/saison-2

Wikipedia (French only, but feel free to use Google Translate):  click HERE  

7th Place:  O’ – 1,160,000 viewers per episode.

TVA every Tuesday at 9:00pm.

Official website: http://tva.canoe.ca/emissions/o/accueil

Wikipedia (French only, but feel free to use Google Translate):  click HERE  

8th Place:  Les pêcheurs1,070,000 viewers per episode.

Radio-Canada every Wednesday at 9:00pm.

Official website: http://lespecheurs.radio-canada.ca/

Wikipedia (French only, but feel free to use Google Translate):  click HERE  

9th Place:  Le dôme – 1,050 viewers per episode.

TVA every Tuesday at 8:00pm.

Official website:  http://tva.canoe.ca/emissions/le-dome/concept

Wikipedia article:  No site covering the Québec program, but the Montréwood French adaptation’s plot is the same       as the U.S. program, click HERE

10th Place:  L’Auberge du chien noir – 940,000 viewers per episode

Radio-Canada every Monday at 8:00pm.

Official Website:  http://ici.radio-canada.ca/tele/auberge-du-chien-noir/2014-2015/

Wikipedia (French only, but feel free to use Google Translate):  click HERE  

All of these shows air once a week.  In total, they attract almost 13,000,000 views a week – that’s a LOT of television.

A number of these shows feature people already mentioned in earlier posts.


Just another few words on how these TV shows can help you improve your French…  Two of the largest challenges when learning a language are ;

  • not hearing every-day street-language used in day-to-day contexts (ie: non-textbook language), and
  • knowing what might be the most entertaining sources with when searching material to help you learn.

The actors in these programs are using everyday street language in day-to-day circumstances.  The shows can also help to capture and retain your attention – after all, they are amongst the most entertaining and popular right now on Montréwood television.    When watching them, make sure you have a dictionary on hand to look up words you repeatedly hear (there are many dictionary apps you can download into your phone).

When I was learning Mandarin Chinese, the above two problems posed huge road-blocks for me.  My problem at the time was that I was given a very short window (of about 2 years) in which I had to bring my non-working-level Chinese up to a fully functioning working level (I was eventually required to conduct 100% of my work in Chinese:  reports, emails, training, meetings, writing, etc).  I therefore had to find methods which worked well, and worked fast, and this was one of the methods I used (with Chinese TV programs of course).

If this method can help to learn Chinese, then I’m sure it can be equally as effective in learning French.

Have fun !


Anne Dorval (#52)

Anne Dorval is one of Québec’s best known television and movie actresses.

Despite being a rather famous actress, we don’t see her very often on the talk-show circuit.  However, the other day she made news waves and was the talk of the town when, in France, she was a guest on the French talk show On n’est pas couché.  She had a rather emotional on-air outburst towards fellow-guest, Eric Zemmour who is well known in France for extreme right, counter-current societal views (in this case she lambasted him over his views of what a traditional family should be and his views against homosexuality).   It was headline news back here at home (it ranked high in Le téléjournal amongst other news programs).  We saw her in a light we rarely see her, and she vividly defended Québec societal views during her exchange with Zemmour (which are on part with greater-Canadian views on the same topics) before a National audience in France.

She has acted in so many television shows and movies, that there’s no way I could adequately cover her appearances and career in this post.   Suffice to say, she’s as famous to Francophones as what any of the most famous Hollywood actors would be to Anglophones.   Her long list of prestigious awards goes hand-in-hand with the course of her career.

Some of the more famous television series in which she has stared include Les Parents, Virginie, and Chambres en ville.

Her movie line-up is quite impressive with culturally-iconic titles such as Ding et Dong, J’ai tué ma mère, and Mommy (which is winning accolades the world over at this moment).

Louis-José Houde (#40)

This is our last in our series of three people named “Houde”.

As far as I known, Louis-José Houde is not directly related to Pierre or Paul Houde.

He is a famous comedian, but with a much stronger media presence than the average circuit comedian.   When trying to think of Anglophone comparisons for Louis-José Houde, it’s actually kind of tough to place him.  The closest I can think of would be someone with the star power of Jeff Foxworthy, just as funny, but not necessarily axed on red-necked comedy (his range of comedy is wider).   The other big difference is that Houde has a much broader and more frequent media presence than Foxworthy.

Although his career began by doing hundreds of circuit comedy shows, along with DVD sales of his shows in the tens and tens of thousands, he is now a regular feature on television, as a stand-in in variety and interview programs, as well as TV commercials (he’s a sought after guest for programs such as Pénélope McQuade, Tout le monde en parle, Le mode en Savail, Le Bye-Bye, as well as a presenter for award galas, and so so many more).   He’s also had his own TV show, Ici Louis-José Houde on Radio-Canada.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s difficult to not see him somewhere on television, at least once every day — He’s one of the best known 30 somethings in all of Québec (born in 1977).  His face is one of the best recognized, and most often viewed comedians in Québec (you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know who he is) — and he has begun to venture into stand-up in France.

If you happened to view SNL Québec skits mentioned in the post Katherine Levac, then you would have seen Louis-José Houde as the host of the first episode of SNL Québec.   He has also taken acting roles along the way, including in box office smashes such as Bon Cop, Bad Cop, and De père en flic.

Paul Houde (#39)

In the last post, we looked at Pierre Houde.  Now we’ll let’s talk about his brother Paul – who is quite the TV and radio media star.

If you kept running into the same person everywhere you went, you could turn to them and say “Aren’t you quite the Paul Houde!”, and anyone in Québec would instantly understand what you meant.  Basically you’re telling them that you see them everywhere, just like Paul Houde.  In fact, he’s been parodied many times for being everywhere, all the time.  Apart from his scheduled media roles, his numerous adventures have certainly fuelled this type of connotation;  he set an around-the world record of 40 hours on commercial airlines, he climbed K2, he recently flew the same flight path of downed Malaysia Airlines MH17 to “relive their experience for the public” (that brought him a type of public attention I’m not sure he was expecting), and he keeps popping up as a sports commentator for major sporting events like the Olympics, Super Bowl, and Pan Am Games.  You never know when or where he’s going to appear, but you know he always will!

Another pop-culture reference to Houde is along the lines of the colloquial Québécois expression “une tête à Papineau”.  If you want to say someone knows everything, you can say “C’t’un une vrai tête à Papineau”, or conversely, “Ch’pas une tête à Papineau”.   But because Paul Houde was the host of a popular knowledge-based TV game show, Le Cercle, the expression “tête à Papineau” has come to be replaced by “Paul Houde”, ie: “Bedonc toi, t’es vraiement un Paul Houde!”, meaning “Well, aren’t you quite the know-it-all!”

You have read me mention a few times that it’s a characteristic of Québécois pop-culture that personalities often take on numerous roles across multiple media platforms.  But in this post, Houde not only characterizes that aspect of Québec pop-culture celebrities, but he also represents another common aspect which we haven’t touched upon very much… Québec pop-culture personalities intermingle and work with one another, over and over and over again, across many different media.   It is quite probable that, like many many Québec celebrities, if Paul Houde hasn’t worked with a certain celebrity over the course of his career, that he certainly would still at least know that celebrity personally, or within one degree of separation.  That, my friends, is Montréwood for you.

In the context of only 38 blog posts to date, here’s an example of how we can use Paul Houde, to demonstrate Montréwood’s prevalent interconnectedness:

Out of 38 posts, I’m already able to directly link Paul Houde to eight of them.  That’s over 20%… not bad, but some may say it’s on the low side. 😉

In all seriousness though… he does quite a good job in any role he is given — which is why we see him so often.  Québec’s pop-culture and the Montréwood scene in general is a much richer place because of him.

The last bit of trivia I’ll mention about Paul Houde is that he’s the host of the popular show Dans l’oeil du dragon on Radio-Canada, the Montréwood version of CBC’s “The Dragon’s Den”, or the U.S. version, “The Shark’s Tank”.   So needless to say, where there are viewers, there is Paul Houde.

I guess Waldo can retire now.

“Archambeault”, “Renaud-Bray”, and Québec books (#35)

Wait a second… Archambeault and Renaud-Bray, are they not two well-known book store chains in Québec?   So why would I be featuring bookstore chains in a pop-culture-related blog?  Well, the reason is simple.  Literature in Québec and Francophone Canada takes on a very different role than in Anglophone Canada.   I get a feel that modern and popular literature is considered by much of the Québec public as being a cultural outlet equal to television, radio, and other arts.  Even if the public is not necessarily reading a different book every week, you’ll see Québécois with a book in hand far more often than you will Anglophones.

Book stores have been on the forefront of promoting Francophone literature.  The Salon du livre de Montréal is a giant French book fair held in Montréal once a year (this year 19-24 November) giving exposure through the media and directly to the public regarding what’s new in literature and authors (it’s attended by over 130,000 people each year… I’m not sure that could happen in Vancouver).   Francophone authors and new books regularly are discussed (even debated) on television and radio, and they are also promoted by the big book stores (likely as much to gain sales, as it is a cultural habit).

It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg story, being tough to say which came first;  are the literary arts in Québec popular out of desire to protect and promote the French language?  Or is it popular because there’s much more respect for the literary arts in the Francophone world in general?  (it’s even strong in France, where support for the literary arts are not necessarily attributed to a need to protect the language).   Québec receives television programs from France which are dedicated to discussing books.

I personally tend to think it’s a bit of both.  Because French is a minority language in North America, Québécois view Francophone literature as a protective vanguard of Francophone culture, and they have traditionally thrown media and government financial support behind it in a way that’s a bit different than in Anglophone Canada (although that might change now with recently introduced austerity measures).   Canada, in general, has a strong literary history, with its citizens able to rattle off well-known its respective Anglophone and Francophone authors.  However, Québécois authors are considered by the public in Québec as the protectors and developers of the language (that’s how the Québec public is frankly taught to view it by many teachers in school – a very different view than how Anglophones view their authors elsewhere in Canada).   Québec authors have also played a major historical role in creating a modern Québécois identity, and instilling a sense of pride in how Québécois speak French, notably Joual (with the likes of Michel Tremblay leading the charge during the Révolution tranquille).

I think this all can translate into a special “soft-spot” for book stores in the hearts of Québécois. However, economic reality makes it so books in French tend to be much more expensive than in English (even translated versions of English books).  As such, a lot of the smaller independent book stores have gone bankrupt, leaving the big chains in their place (as well as discounted books at Costco, just like elsewhere in Canada).   Archambault (owned by Québecor) and Renaud-Bray (Canada’s second largest book chain after Chapters/Indigo) are the two larger and better known chains.   They’re viewed more as cultural icons, rather than just a book store.  Their concepts are similar to Chapters & Indigo in English Canada, but dedicated solely to French literature (with a variety mix of music and trinket sales), with a strong emphasis on Québec literature.  They’ll often feature book signings and book events, and they maintain a “best-seller” lists of what books are hot.

My personal reading tends to wander between English and French books (either from France or Québec).   But I’ve consulted the best-seller lists from Archambault and Renaud-Bray on more than one occasion to find out what might be worth buying (hey… I figure books are expensive, so better to be sure in advance that what you’re buying has already gone over well).

If you’re in an area of Canada where it might be difficult to purchase French books, you’re not sure what might be good, and you think you’ll have to order books online, I’d strongly recommend you go with the Palmères livres (top book countdown) put out by the big book chains:

  • Archambeault’s book count-down can be viewed on their website by clicking HERE.
  • Renaud-Bray’s book count-down can be viewed on their website by clicking HERE
  • You can also order books online through Amazon Canada’s French website HERE , and Chapters’ / Indigo’s French website HERE.

Bonne Lecture !!