November 4, 2015

hanging out at some assembly required

Scarlett Ballantyne / Blog Lovin

Some Assembly Required is a teen comedy series that airs on YTV in Canada and streams on Netflix in the United States and worldwide. A few weeks ago, the Social Media Manager for the series contacted me to see if I was interested in coming to a taping and writing a about the experience. The series is shot in front of a live audience in Burnaby, British Columbia on Thursdays, so I thought it could be a fun way for Chloe and I to spend an afternoon. The taping we chose to attend was the season finale, which meant that all of the actors were present, and it was really interesting to see behind the scenes and how process comes together. It happened to be right before her 13th Birthday, so we had a yummy lunch at the Cactus Club before heading over to the studios.

Back in the day, when my girls were young, they watched a tonne of shows like That’s So Raven, The Wizards of Waverly Place, and Zack & Cody. These are just a few of the ones that stand out in my mind, and Some Assembly Required is similar – the series was created by Dan Signer (The Suite Life on Deck,A.N.T. Farm, Mr. Young) & Howard Nemetz. Lot’s of laughs and silly jokes, colourful sets and funny characters.

The premise of the show centres around 14-year-old Jarvis Raines – played by Kolton Stewart, a real cute kid! –  an average teenager who becomes a boss overnight after he sues a toy company over a defective chemistry set that blows up his house. Jarvis’ first act as CEO of Knickknack Toys is to recruit a diverse group of kids from his high school to help him run the company. Usually something backfires when they are trying to develop a new toy. Before the end credits there are usually advertisements showing Knickknack Toys’ newest products, which are shown or often invented in said episode.

The premise of the show centres around 14-year-old Jarvis Raines – played by Kolton Stewart, a real cute kid! –  an average teenager who becomes a boss overnight after he sues a toy company over a defective chemistry set that blows up his house. Jarvis’ first act as CEO of Knickknack Toys is to recruit a diverse group of kids from his high school to help him run the company. Usually something backfires when they are trying to develop a new toy. Before the end credits there are usually advertisements showing Knickknack Toys’ newest products, which are shown or often invented in said episode.

The process of going to a taping is checking in, and getting your seats, then quite a bit of sitting and waiting. Since the audience was entirely made up of kids – some schools were there, acting schools, a birthday party (?) – there was an MC, or more like an entertainer, that kept everyone’s energy up between takes by playing games, music, and keeping everyone entertained. Kind of like a show within a show, so that made the time go a bit faster. The taping itself took about 5 hours, and we were in our seat an hour in advance, so it made for a long evening. It’s probably the first and last time I will ever eat a Pixie Stix (flavoured sugar-type candy).

Even though Chloe is 13, she still really dug the show and specifically she was interested in the how the actor’s did their lines and the performing process in general. In one part, two of the actor’s –  Kolton andCharlie Storwick – sang a song together as part of the episode, and that really caught Chloe’s attention (since she wants to be Beyonce :-p). Both actors are very talented singers and that was our favourite part of the episode. I did some research on Koltan and this talented kid has quite a background. There is a very cool clip on Youtube of him on Ellen from a few years back.  I loved his segment, because he talks about being bullied for being different and pursuing through that in order to stay true to his dreams. That really resonated with me and I made sure that Chloe saw it too – she has endured a lot of harsh bullying this past year over an Instagram account she has where she sings cover songs. The taunting got so bad that she has now deleted half of the videos and has been really self-conscious of singing in public. Kids can be harsh and even though bullying is constantly talked about in schools, I still don’t think they realize how much their words can affect each other. So the fact that Kolton went through the same type of thing and came out on top, I hope will impact her positively.

Another thing I found out about Kolton was that he played a small part in the movie Make Your Move with my fan-girl-crush Derek Hough. Hello! I like him even more now.

After the last scene was taped, which included all of the actors, the entire crew ran in and did a group hug and there were lots of cheers and some tears too. It looked like a very tight-knit crew and it was cool to witness such a monumental taping. After it was over, we stuck around of a bit for some autographs and a few photos. There were still a lot of kids that hung around until the bitter end to see there favourites from the show.

Overall, it was a cool experience to see behind the scenes, and also to see how a Canadian production is created. Some very hard working and passionate individuals come together to create this show and I was proud to be a small part of supporting Canadian television. You can catch Seasons 1 & 2 of Some Assembly Required on Netflix, or on YTV in Canada (and on iTunes). The episode we saw won’t air until later in 2016, so I can’t tell you what happens, but it was a very smart, surprise ending.

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