The local dépanneur is a core element in the life of almost every Montréalais and Montréalaise. It doesn’t sell everything we need, but it sells the basics. It provides us with the requisite staples that allow us to move towards whatever goals we have for ourselves. Given this deep, microcosmic symbolism, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that dép-based art has stayed more or less off the media radar recently. Thankfully, that’s all about to change.
Dépflies is a bilingual sitcom about a family-run dépanneur and its regulars (also know as dépflies). It is currently in production and a part of CBC’s ComedyCoup contest, which rewards the sitcom concept that gets the most votes with $500,000 in production financing and a half hour prime time slot for their pilot episode. Show runner Danny Belair believes that the relatability of the show’s core concept is what puts Dépflies ahead of its ComedyCoup Competition: “Everbody has their own unique relationship to their dép and every dép is unique in and of itself,” said Belair. “The day-to-day interactions that go on inside every dépanneur are extremely representative of life in Montreal and we’re trying to bring that to our audience.”
One of the elements that make Dépflies unique is its bilingual format. All of the characters in the show speak English and French, often switching between the two mid-conversation. Belair is well aware of the comparisons that will inevitably be drawn between DépFlies and bilingual box office hit Bon Cop Bad Cop, but he wants viewers to know that Dépflies is using English and French to achieve much different ends than Canada’s highest grossing film: “Bon Cop Bad Cope used bilingualism in an adversarial in order to emphasize a sort of stereotypical competition between Anglophones and Francophones. Our focus on bilingualism in Dépflies is more about highlighting the linguistic harmony between Montreal’s English and French speakers that is so crucial to our city’s spirit.”
Another comparison that’s sure to arise for any sitcom focused on the local corner store is Kevin Smith’s Clerks, but Belair is also quick to point out that the Dépflies shares nothing with Clerks except its setting: “Clerks was more about the wacky antics of convenience store employees. What we’re trying to do here is tease out the meaningful from the mundane and create something substantial.” Belair placed specific emphasis on the fact that the show will not be about people who hang around in a dépanneur all day and do nothing. It will be about the working class of Montreal who are following their dreams while using the local dépanneur as their sociocultural center of gravity.
Given the Dépflies’ unique concept and the sheer quality of the teasers that have already been released, it’s certainly not beyond reason to envision a day when Dépflies is as crucial to the Canadian television viewer as the dépanneur is to every Quebecois and Quebecoise.
For more information on Dépflies and to find out how you can help the show win ComedyCoup, click here. Voting closes this Sunday!
Can you identify the dépanneur in the photos above?