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Interview: The Social’s Hosts

by Charles Trapunski

CTV’s The Social is about to celebrate a landmark 1,000th episode this Friday, March 9th. The show is a favourite of ours at Brief Take and so the opportunity to sit down with four fantastic women: Melissa Grelo, Lainey Lui, Cynthia Loyst and Marci Ien was one for which we were thrilled to take advantage and participate. The fact that our conversation happened on International Women’s Day at the Bell Media offices was the ideal timing.

Here is a condensed and edited version of our chat from this morning.

Brief Take: What is the signifance of The Social being live at 1 pm?

Marci Ien: There’s so many stories we hear of people gathering at their lunch rooms to watch and taking their breaks exactly at 1 p.m to watch.

Cynthia Loyst: Dentists! Firehalls! *laughs*

MI: This is what happens in the dental offices and firehalls across the country. But people PVR it all the time and say, “it’s a part of my me time”, and that they like to watch it before they go to sleep.

Lainey Lui: You mentioned a unique time of day because it’s on my mind as it’s International Women’s Day today. It was women before us who carved out this space, not just in this country but in other countries that made it so that women, especially, felt like they’re going to have a place to be heard in a place to which they were relating on Daytime TV. So the four of us, at this point in our careers, to be able to join in that movement, we owe a lot [to the likes of] Marilyn Denis, Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey, who actually decided to put their foot down on Daytime and make that imprint so everlasting that we can join to their party. That is why we occupy this space. It’s for women.

BT: Has there been a guest over the years that was really momentous?

MI: *Looks to Cynthia* You’re going to say Jason Momoa, right?

CL: *laughs* Sure, I mean that was one of those moments of a fangirl, where he’s a specimen and what’s funny about him is I become a conduit, just because I said it out loud a lot of times on the show what it meant, but the impact of the cameramen there that were like “I get it”, it basically didn’t matter, young, old, gay, straight, male, female, was like “that’s a man”, that was a moment, but we had an inspiring guest yesterday.

LL: I think we’ve had inspiring celebrity guests who clearly make us swoon, we’ve had non-celebrity guests who just light us up and fire us up too. There was a young man whose name was Noah, he is seventeen years old and he lost his parents to mental illness and he is now advocating for mental illness programs to be introduced by our government. He’s gotten the attention of every media outlet now in the country and is openly criticizing the government for their lack of follow-up and follow through. This happened on Bell Let’s Talk day and after that, we kind of looked around and said “wow”, it gave us a lot of hope. We also had Danai Gurira on our show four days before Marvel’s Black Panther opened and set all kinds of box office records and became the most successful movie already of 2018. The character that she plays is the general of an army of people of colour, of black people, so to be able to be in the presence of an artist, who at this point in her career is probably going to do great things, it’s really an honour for us to be able to showcase first of all that kind of talent, but then number two to be able to say, “hey, we were there when…”, and maybe in two years when she wins an Oscar, or writes another Tony-award winning play or something, she’ll remember, and she can come back and she can say hi to us.

MI: I’m also thinking about A Tribe Called Red, and I’m thinking about the conversation that we had with the band and the conversation about Indigenous people, and the lack of conversation we’ve had thus far, and we were able to get political with them, and we were also able to shed light on that situation. And I’ll tell you, that was something that I so appreciate because for me, it’s been 25 years in news, and to be able to come to a place of comfort where I am not just reading the news, but I’m expressing opinion about the news and we’re able to sit down with people and go deep. And so to raise issues, important issues that need to be addressed, is something that I so appreciate. And we’re able to do that each and every day.

BT: Not the Prime Minister?

CL: *Laughs* It’s weird, he’s been on the show four times now, so it’s like, “Oh, JT?”

Melissa Grelo: He’s like one of our friends.

BT: What has surprised you the most over the years doing this show?

CL: One of the biggest surprises is that we thought that maybe we would get people within our age range, a little bit above, a little bit below, but we have consistently so many people coming here, with their younger daughters, or three generations: grandmothers, mothers and daughters coming together, and that was so unexpected and I don’t think that we would would have predicted that, and then the amount of men who watch our show. So right from the get go, I think that it was significant and it was in the forty percent range of our audience, and then I think all of us have shared that when we’re out on the street, that’s when you notice it the most because I have been standing in the grocery store, and a man’s like, I’ll be looking at melons, and a man’s like, “I really like your show”, and then just wander away. *all laugh*

LL: I think what we do is bring issues to our audience in which they would be interested, but it doesn’t mean necessarily that they have to agree with us. We want to know when they are interested and love what we’re saying, but we’re equally interested when they completely hate what we’re saying too. That is the point of what the show is, and the show would be so boring if everyone sat there and said “yes, yes, yes”, you need some “no’s”, you can’t advance a conversation without tension. So part of our job is to understand that there is an opinion out there for everyone, sometimes it will be me with whom they don’t agree, most of the time it will be me *laughs*, but we’ve all been in a position in which we have taken the “con” position, and it is absolutely necessary because there is absolutely more than one side to any discussion.


The Social’s 1,000th episode will be airing at 1 pm Friday March 9th, and there will be a Facebook Live feed happening at the same time

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