The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down, a new reality TV show, is mixing Seth Rogen’s inherent charm with the explosion in popularity of pottery and ceramics.
The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down adapted from successful British counterpart
Teghan Beaudette · CBC News
· Posted: Feb 08, 2024 4:00 AM EST | Last Updated: February 8
Actor and comedian Seth Rogen is executive producer of The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down. The new reality TV show, similar in format to The Great Canadian Baking Show, will bring together potters from across the country to compete. (Erich Saide/CBC)A new Canadian reality TV show is mixing Seth Rogen’s inherent charm with the explosion in popularity of pottery and ceramics.
The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down hits airwaves on Thursday, and like its British counterpart, potters from across the country will compete in challenges to make original art and functional ceramics.
Rogen is not only an executive producer of the show, but he makes a couple of appearances as guest judge and instructor, when he demonstrates how to make one of his first creations: an ashtray.
Best known as an A-list actor and comedian, he also co-founded the company Houseplant, which pairs home goods (vases, ashtrays, candles and more) with cannabis.
His new show is a cheery addition to the trend in reality TV programs toward gentle entertainment — those with relatively low stakes but a lot of positivity and humour, and a bit of take-home advice. Shows like The Great Canadian Baking Show, The Great British Baking Show and Antiques Roadshow offer similarly sweet surprises with not too much dramatic tension.
Rogen introduced to pottery by his wifeEpisode 1 takes audiences to Granville Island, to the former site of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where potters from the East and West coasts (and two from Winnipeg) meet Rogen, show host Jennifer Robertson (audiences will know her from Schitt’s Creek) and judges Brendan Tang and Natalie Waddell.
The Canadiana is strong in the first episode, with Rogen strolling along cobblestone paths on Granville Island and then showing off one of his creations, a tribute to his hometown of Vancouver.
Rogen, who was born in Vancouver, will appear as a guest judge and instructor on the competition show, where he’ll demonstrate how to make his signature ash tray on the first episode. (CBC)”When I think of home, I think of two things: I think of the three mountains that you see when you look north, which are Grouse, Seymour and Cypress, and I think of smoking a lot of weed,” Rogen said. “So I made a bong that when out on its side represents the three mountains of Vancouver, and when put vertically is a bong!”
Robertson said Rogen was introduced to pottery by his wife, Lauren Miller, who took him to his first class.
“He’s very passionate about it, and Brendan and Natalie say he has real skills, which a lot of times you’re like, ‘Oh, the celebrities are ceramicists now!’ but he really works very hard, takes it very seriously,” said Robertson, adding she often heard Rogen on set working on pieces between takes and firing up a blowtorch to dry them.
Classes fill up as pottery finds big social followingThe show comes at a time when there’s been a dramatic rise in interest in pottery, particularly in the last few years.
“I teach at Emily Carr, and I definitely see the uptick in the student enrolment in that space,” Tang said. “We often puzzle over that because we were probably doing ceramics in the ’90s, and it was a lot slower.”
Gabriela Angulo runs Clay With Me Pottery Studio in Toronto.
Gabriela Angulo runs two studios in Toronto. She started out teaching kids in her kitchen before renting a garage to expand the business, and she now has more than 20 wheels for teaching. (Craig Chivers/CBC)She started out teaching kids in her kitchen before renting a garage to expand the business, and she now has more than 20 wheels for teaching at her two locations.
Recently, she even gave rapper Drake a lesson. “He was very good,” Angulo said. “You can see that he’s an artist. He was making a vase and building inside.”
Drake found the studio on social media, which Tang and Waddell say is ground zero for the pottery boom.
Ceramicists and influencers document the making of their creations on social media, racking up massive view counts and wide audiences with their soothing depictions of forming, carving and painting the work.
“I’ve seen a lot of these students leave the studio and start selling work online, and that’s been really amazing to me,” Tang said.
WATCH: Rogen isn’t just a judge, he’s also a ceramicist:
TikTok trends, TV shows highlight pottery’s popularityPottery and ceramics have had a popularity boost thanks to TikTok influencers hitting the wheel and it’s becoming a new CBC TV show produced by Seth Rogen, The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down.
Rogen’s company, Houseplant, sells Rogen-designed works online as well.
Phones are out, clay is inOffline, the ancient craft is also helping people (or forcing them) to put down their devices and be present. You can’t use a pottery wheel and text at the same time, Waddell said.
“It’s something that I think people are drawn to — participating in activities that take them away from their electronic devices for a bit,” she said. “They want mindfulness, and they like the tactile nature of working with their hands and the satisfaction that you get making a thing.”
Quite simply, Angulo said, potters are playing with nature.
“You are, like, just connected right away with nature, and you are making something artistic to use it — like to drink in your house, to eat or just to make your house prettier, you know?” she said.
That isn’t to say there’s no drama in clay.
“Clay is the biggest diva in the room,” Tang said.
The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down | Official TrailerFire up the kiln and take a first look at Canada’s newest competition reality show series featuring potters, Jennifer Robertson and Seth Rogan
Perhaps fickle is a better word than diva — the clay can crack depending on how it dries or even explode in the kiln, glazes can cause dripping disasters, and a lot can go wrong before you even get to that stage.
“It’s so stressful when people come into class and they’re like, ‘I thought that was just gonna be relaxing. I’m like, ‘It’s a lie. It’s a lie,'” Waddell said. “Be prepared to be happily stressed out working with clay.”
And that is what producers hope will propel The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down to the great heights of its peers — dramatic clay, encouraging contestants and a general sense of being “happily stressed out.”
The show premieres on Thursday, Feb. 8, on CBC Gem and CBC TV at 8 p.m. ET.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Teghan Beaudette covers national entertainment for CBC News. She’s based in Toronto but has worked all over Canada with CBC in local and national news, including as a reporter and anchor for CBC Manitoba, a news producer in Ontario and a television producer with CBC Arts. You can reach her at email@example.com.