The So­cial aims to spark a Cana­dian con­ver­sa­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Lau­ren La Rose

TORONTO — Four can­did, out­spo­ken fe­male hosts dis­cussing hot-but­ton top­ics on a day­time talk show. Sound fa­mil­iar?

The con­cept of The So­cial, which premieres Mon­day at 1 p.m. on CTV, will in­evitably call to the mind The View, ar­guably the blue­print of the all-women roundtable genre now om­nipresent on TV, but rather than shy away from the as­so­ci­a­tion, the women fronting the new Cana­dian chat­fest em­brace the con­nec­tion some may make be­tween the home­grown new­comer and its long-run­ning U.S. coun­ter­part.

“First of all, we wel­come those com­par­isons,” said Traci Mel­chor sit­ting along­side fel­low co-host Lainey Lui.

“You take a suc­cess­ful in­sti­tu­tion like The View that’s been around for 17 sea­sons... it’s an in­cred­i­ble feat that Bar­bara Wal­ters has cre­ated this and it’s been through many in­car­na­tions with a va­ri­ety of peo­ple on the panel.

“The So­cial is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent in the fact that it’s go­ing to be Lainey Lui, Traci Mel­chor, Cyn­thia Loyst and Melissa Grelo, and we’re go­ing to bring our own ex­pe­ri­ence — not just as broad­cast­ers — but as peo­ple and as women in Canada.”

Lui said they want view­ers to “come for the con­ver­sa­tion” that will open each show, where the quar­tet will de­bate a wide range of sub­jects that are al­ready fa­mil­iar en­ti­ties in the day­time talk land­scape, such as news, pop cul­ture and life­styles top­ics. How The So­cial seeks to dis­tin­guish it­self from com­peti­tors in the genre is by fully in­te­grat­ing so­cial me­dia — and by ex­ten­sion, the home viewer — into the in-stu­dio fray.

Pre­mières Mon­day at 1 p.m.

Mel­chor said each of the hosts will be equipped with tablets and plan to en­cour­age those watch­ing to send them their tweets, emails, pho­tos and Face­book posts — dig­i­tal tid­bits that may also pro­vide fod­der for fu­ture onair seg­ments.

“It will spark a con­ver­sa­tion. It might even spark an ar­gu­ment. We might dis­agree with that tweet and we might go for it,” said Lui, who is also the gossip blog­ger be­hind the pop­u­lar web­site Lainey Gossip.

“The viewer will feel like they’re part of that con­ver­sa­tion be­cause they’re driv­ing it, they’re di­rect­ing it and they’re be­ing heard — not just in a su­per­fi­cial way by flash­ing it on the screen, but ac­tu­ally telling us to re­act to what they’re say­ing.”

The So­cial will also fea­ture guest hosts in­hab­it­ing what Mel­chor and Lui re­ferred to as “the fifth chair.” While they were mum on who they’ve al­ready lined up to sit in, they each have dream can­di­dates to fill the guest host role: de­signer Karl Lager­feld and poet Maya An­gelou for Mel­chor and author J.K. Rowl­ing for Harry Pot­ter su­per­fan Lui.

The launch of the new se­ries adds to the al­ready lengthy list of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for Loyst, a re­la­tion­ship ex­pert and new mom, and Grelo, a morn­ing show co-host and news an­chor on Toronto ca­ble chan­nel CP24. Mel­chor and Lui plan to re­main on­board in their roles as on-air re­porters with CTV en­ter­tain­ment news show eTalk, al­beit in a scaled-back role.

“We so en­joy our jobs, we re­ally like our gigs, and we also love our lives out­side of tele­vi­sion,” said Mel­chor, a mother of twins. “I think that if you’re not a fully formed hu­man be­ing and you don’t have a life out­side of tele­vi­sion you can’t bring true con­tent to this show. You can’t. Be­cause you’ll have noth­ing to talk about.

“You have to be a lit­tle self-dep­re­cat­ing, you have to have a lit­tle heart­break and a lit­tle laugh­ter... You have to have those sto­ries to bring to the show.”

While the all-fe­male panel seeks to make The So­cial re­lat­able to women watch­ing across the coun­try, that’s not to say that men aren’t wel­come to join the party.

Mel­chor said they plan to delve into sub­jects which will have a broad in­ter­est for view­ers re­gard­less of gen­der, such as ad­vice on pet care, tips for han­dling a move or eat­ing on the go. That said, she stressed she didn’t want to stereo­type men and as­sume they wouldn’t want to watch seg­ments or dis­cus­sion on sub­jects seem­ingly geared to­wards women — a sen­ti­ment echoed by Lui.

“Let’s not short­change men,” she said. “Our crew is pri­mar­ily male, and when we’re do­ing our dis­cus­sions off the top of the show we can hear them mut­ter­ing to them­selves or mut­ter­ing to each other about whether or not they’re agree­ing or dis­agree­ing with what we’re say­ing.

“I think it’s short-sighted to as­sume men won’t be in­ter­ested in th­ese top­ics. We are con­fi­dent that we will be able to present the con­ver­sa­tion in a uni­ver­sally ap­peal­ing way.”

The So­cial will also air week­days at 6 p.m. on E!

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