Let's get this out of the way right now. You Can't Ask That isn't a pity party. Nor should it be, says the show's producers.
Debuting Thursday, June 20, at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv, the eight-part documentary series You Can’t Ask That tackles prejudices and breaks down societal taboos in a real and authentic way. Each week, Canadians with disabilities—whether they are blind, wheelchair users, little people or have a physical or neurological condition—read questions from an anonymous public out loud before answering them. Sample questions range from "Why are you blind?" to "What's wrong with your face?" and "Do you use your wheelchair to skip the line?"
Looking directly into the camera—and into Canadian homes—the answers may be funny, serious or sad, but they are delivered honestly and candidly.
"They are living their life, and we as 'normal' people [may be] judgmental and feel pity for them," says producer Izabel Chevrier. "Through this series, we learned that we shouldn't." Montreal's Pixcom Productions was on the hunt for a television series that connected with them. They found it on the other side of the world.
"We were looking for really original, human, formats and we found this wonderful one from ABC in Australia," says Marie-Ève Gariépy, the show's line producer. "We've been really touched and impressed by the powerful message that the series carries and the emotion a 30-minute episode can deliver. It's incredible. You realize their daily struggle, but there is such a powerful message in the show."
Pixcom Productions, behind such series as Restoration Garage and Hellfire Heroes, purchased the franchise rights and created Ça ne se demande pas for AMI-télé, which was broadcast earlier this winter, before producing its English-language counterpart.
Participants for You Can't Ask That came from a variety of communities in Canada, representing larger areas like Edmonton, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal, but smaller spots in Red Deer, AB, Roberts Creek, BC, and Barrie and Timmins, ON, too.
In Episode one, viewers meet participants from across the country who share their challenges, frustrations and benefits related to being wheelchair users. Future instalments of You Can’t Ask That explore blindness, little people, facial differences, Down syndrome, Tourette syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
"In every episode you are touched," Chevrier says.
You Can’t Ask That airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv. The series can be watched post-broadcast on demand at AMI.ca or via the free AMI-tv App.