I sat in front of my TV on the first day of broadcasting District 31 in September 2016, curious about this novelty drawn by an author, Luc Dionne, who knows how to write hits. But integrating a daily show into my schedule seemed like a bit of a challenge, so when the premiere was over, I decided to watch the episodes at the end of the week.
I soon realized that this choice was untenable because the intrigue made people talk: there are limits to blocking your ears and mugs on social networks! So I started catching up on today’s episode before going to bed.
The impatience to follow the twists and turns of the story eventually got the better of my slowed-down listening strategies: I found myself moving up my dinner to free myself up to watch the show live. This also allowed me to enter my scientific observations into a group on Messenger, aptly called “The mixed District 31 », composed of my sister, my cousin and myself.
Yes, it took three heads to unravel the plots, make connections, and draw the conclusions we felt were necessary! Unfortunately, our overflowing imaginations had to constantly bow to the discoveries of Luc Dionne, the man who kept more than 1.7 million viewers on the edge of their seats every night.
Let’s console ourselves, we weren’t the only ones who were foiled, judging by the reactions of the many members of the Facebook groups that were set up around the show.
It’s been called a television phenomenon. Addicts eat it, people around them know the highlights of the series even without following it themselves, the media and social networks are full of references to this topic… In short, impossible to escape from it. Someone who has never looked District 31 can still identify Commander Chiasson. He joins the great family of our collective imagination: Maman Plouffe, Alexis, les p’tites Jarry, Oscar Bellemare, Lola, Émilie Bordeleau, Rénald, Lulu, Damien, Marie Lamontagne… and Macaire!
District 31 added to the long list of programs that marked the history of television in Quebec, splash until Unit 9come The beautiful stories of the pays d’en haut† What a family!† Facade Street† Symphorien, time for peace† throw and count† Rooms in the city† omerta (also by Luc Dionne), Daughters of Caleb† Walk away† the little life†
The proliferation of screens prevents any accounting comparison of ratings: the most popular programs of the 1980s and 1990s drew more than 3 million viewers. Given the competition, this is no longer possible today.
Nevertheless, public interest television in Quebec is still capable of creating major events, which sets it apart from many other national television stations. Whether the invitation is honored or not, everyone knows about its existence – the bye year-end are the best example. But it’s not just them.
On Sunday night, Quebec is divided into two camps: those who watch TVA varieties, or masked singersby Revolution or from star academy, with ratings fluctuating between 1.4 and 1.7 million viewers, and those who opt for Everyone is talking about it at Radio-Canada, whose audiences represent more than a million people, or nearly four in ten adult French-speaking Quebecers. It’s huge, it gets people talking outside the engaged audience, and it doesn’t stop from one season to the next.
In addition, the number of public interest television programs reaching one million viewers remains very high in Quebec. last Dec, The press collected the ratings of the shows in 2021 and reached 37 millionaire shows, all Quebec productions that varied from series to varieties, including sports, galas … and press conferences by François Legault.
Compilations created by the Montreal Journal for previous years, for their part, show that there were 32 shows with more than a million viewers in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Despite the opportunity to watch them at our time, at our pace and on the platform of our choice, so many are of us follow “our programs” the traditional way.
It must be said that waiting in itself is a pleasure, which some broadcasters are rediscovering by forgoing putting a new series online in one go. In addition to the talent of the author and the cast, the success of District 31 owes a lot to this ancestral art of the soap that can be summed up in a few words: see you tomorrow for the rest!
Knowing that many of us are waiting also nurtures a sense of belonging that characterizes television viewing in Quebec. We used to watch a program as a family in the living room, and from one living room to another on the same street; today the show is virtual but still there…and it’s very tempting to take part in it.
Live listening is indeed enriched by the possibility to exchange with other enthusiasts, which makes you want to be there at the same time as the rest of the audience. Sometimes the author of a series joins the group — Danielle Trottier supervised the broadcast of every episode ofUnit 9 than all life, responding live to the comments of the viewers (in the feminine, because it was mainly they who expressed themselves!). Some animators and some actors also lend themselves to the exercise.
The small society that is Quebec favors this virtual intimacy, so familiar that derailments, however frequent on social networks, have no place there.
Familiarity is also an aspect that explains the popularity of Quebec television. I have already written it in a work dedicated to Quebec: we love the policemen of District 31 because they are not superheroes but people like us, who eat their lunch in front of our eyes, make coffee, write reports and are subject to strict budgets. We recognize ourselves in it.
All this contributes to maintaining the relevance of these televised meetings which, despite what one may believe, still touch all walks of life. These last years, Revolution attacked the youths, Walk away was viewed as a family, District 31 has reached men and infoman continued to make 7- to 77-year-olds laugh. And today, as yesterday, the ladies of my age do not miss the important series. From experience they know very well that once the effort of the last meeting with District 31another quintessential Quebec television phenomenon, very generalist, that has nothing to do with Netflix, will point the tip of its nose, shake up habits and make us talk collectively… without even seeing it coming!