Don’t like most of the new scripted shows the broadcast networks are rolling out this summer? Blame Canada! ABC’s just-renewed Rookie Blue, along with CBS crime dramas Flashpoint and The Bridge, all hail from up north — and in just a few short weeks, the CW will try to convince Americans to embrace yet another Canadian creation. Vulture has learned that starting August 3, the Gossip Girl network will begin airing the CBC-produced comedy 18 to Life, a half-hour mash-up of Meet the Parents, Away We Go, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager starring Michael Seater (Life With Derek) and Stacey Farber (Degrassi: The Next Generation, because all young Canadian actors are apparently required to apprentice there before doing anything else); they play two teens who impulsively decide to pull a Bristol-Levi and get hitched over the objections of their respective (and wacky!) parents. The CW is hoping Life, which the CBC originally developed as a potential ABC sitcom back in 2008, will give the network a much-needed summer-ratings boost, and in the process, help promote its new fall fare.
The CW has always been ratings starved in the summer: Last week, for example, the network averaged fewer than one million viewers. Serialized dramas like Gossip Girl and 90210 (the CW’s bread and butter) don’t repeat well, while tight budgets have usually left little room for investing in first-run summer shows (we’re just going to forget about Hitched or Ditched, the short-lived reality series the network burned off last June). While the CW certainly needs a boost to save face, there are larger financial issues at stake: Because nobody’s watching the CW in the summer, the network doesn’t have a base from which to promote fall freshmen the way other broadcasters do. NBC, for example, wallpapers America’s Got Talent with promos for its upcoming Undercovers and The Event.
Will 18 to Life and the previously announced reality show Plain Jane (which starts July 28) be enough to turn the CW into a summer player? Probably not, but they might at least give the network some semblance of a pulse in the weeks headed up to its fall rollout, which begins September 8 with the return of America’s Next Top Model and the debut of drama Hellcats. And because Life is an acquisition of an already aired show, it’s a good bet the CW isn’t paying much for the rights to air the show (the network declined to talk dollars). Meanwhile, Vulture checked out the pilot on YouTube (it’s since been taken down) and … it’s not bad! While the setup is far-fetched (our heroes get married on a dare) and the parents are caricatures, Farber and Seater have major chemistry and the hip soundtrack kept giving us Juno flashbacks. Also: Not a single character says “eh.”
So far, the CW is planning to air two episodes of Life per week (Tuesdays at 9 and 9:30 p.m.) for six weeks. The CBC has already ordered a second season of the show, and the CW has an option to air those episodes next summer should season one generate any sort of Nielsen momentum. And if it gets viewers high on all things Canada, they’ll have more to choose from soon: IFC will air the eight-part Kids in the Hall reunion miniseries starting August 20; season three of cult hit Being Erica is set to hit SoapNet early next year; and, if Life does well, a Bob and Doug McKenzie reunion show is all but inevitable.