Game Shows | The entertainers excluded from the game

Quiz question: How many game programs are hosted by a man this year? Answer: eight. Bonus question: How many are led by a woman? Half of one.

Posted 7 March

Marc-André Lemieux

Marc-André Lemieux
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Currently, only The goose that lays the golden eggs prevents men from recording a clean sheet. Co-piloted by Sébastien Benoit and Julie Houle, the indestructible TVA program contrasts with all the games on the 2021-2022 television calendar, which all have a host and not a host: The cheat (Guy Jodoin), Next one ! (Stephan Bellavance), Great ! (again Stéphane Bellavance), The little tanners (Pierre Hébert), A matter of judgment (always Pierre Hébert), It does the job (Samuele Chiasson), Quiet, let’s play! (Patrice L’Ecuyer) e 100 genes (Pierre-Yves Lord).

This male domination is far from recent. In Quebec television history, women make up only about 10% of game presenters. They found themselves alone at the controls of a quiz only 20 times, compared to 180 for their male colleagues.

We have excluded from the calculation about thirty programs piloted in mixed tandem, such as for example Lighting bolt (Yves Gionet and Anne Bisson), It’s my song (Marie-Eve Janvier and Jean-François Breau) e Adam or Eve (Janette Bertrand and Jean Lajeunesse).

Gala Artis’ list of awards reflects this under-representation. In the past 15 years, only three women have entered the Game Show Host category: Julie Snyder (The banker), Veronica Cloutier (thief package) and Maripier Morin (In front of the wall). The stats are similar on the Gemini price side.

It was during the presentation of the finalists at the Gala Artis that Julie Houle realized she was an exception. “When I saw that there were five men named, she hit me,” she says.

Difficult to explain

Julie Houle appears in the end credits of the show The goose that lays the golden eggs since 2009. After fulfilling the duties of presenter, she was promoted to the role of co-host in 2018, when Guy Mongrain retired.

The mother of four never thought that Loto-Québec and TVA had recruited Sébastien Benoit “because a woman is unable to host alone”. From the start, she asked to be paid the same way with her co-host, even though he had more experience hosting than she did. “Equality was important to us,” she points out.


Julie Houle

Julie Houle makes an effort to explain the absence of the women in charge of the quizzes. In an interview, the former miss meteorologist of Hello he thinks aloud: “Is a playmaker dominant? Does he have to be a man? I grew up with Patrice L’Ecuyer. It is the reference in the animation of the quiz. Because he’s a man, is that why we keep going this way? ”

According to Anouk Bélanger, a professor in the communications department of the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), the imbalance observed in 2022 could stem from patterns dating back to the beginnings of the small screen.

“There is something residual that dates back to the 60s, 70s, when man had authority in the public space. At that moment, who would be obeyed more quickly? Which authority would be more easily accepted? The man. “

These social relationships colored the television DNA. Leave traces. And since television is a large institution, its logic of operation takes a long time to change.

Anouk Bélanger, professor in the UQAM communications department

“If television offers us a portrait of Quebec that helps to forge in the imagination what we consider normal, customary or even acceptable, the figure of the TV presenter brings us back to a very traditional portrait,” continues Anouk Belanger. It’s a cliché, but it’s also the empirical reality here. Middle-aged white men dominate the portrait of Quebec’s public face. ”

Lack of imagination

Anaïs Favron is one of the rare women to have piloted a televised game in the 21stAnd century. It distinguished itself from 2015 to 2019 at the controls of the Last passenger, a youth program on Télé-Québec. According to her, the lack of female representation in the world of quizzes derives in particular from the lack of imagination of the broadcasters.

“They always take the same world,” he complains. They are very afraid. It’s the same every time. They say, “But it’s hard to find people.” But I’m, I’m like, “I could animate! Edith Cochrane could, Virginie Fortin could… ”Girls who could animate, I know many! ”


Anais Favron

According to Anaïs Favron, the place of women on TV has stagnated in recent years. She believed that with the rise of the #metoo (#metoo) movement, the situation would improve, but no.

“It moves everywhere, except on TV,” he notes. It is as if there is still the reflection: “Let’s hire the man, because a boy is easier. It’s easier to style, it’s easier to dress “. Nobody cares what they wear. As a girl, what he wears, she will talk about it for a long time. We are not made the same. We didn’t get there. I feel like I’m experiencing more sexism now than I was 15 years ago. ”

“Decisions start from the top”

Julie Snyder knows the world of television well. You also know the world of games. From 2007 to 2017 you held the reins of the Banker with VAT number. Reached over the phone, the multi-trophy winner Artis and Gémeaux recalls that at first the broadcaster was approaching a man to pilot the Quebec adaptation of Deal or No Deal : Martin Matte. His phone rang only after the comedian declined the offer.


Julie Snyder

For years I was the only woman to host a game show. And that was what worked best. Every Sunday we were the number one show. It should have inspired other broadcasters or other producers to put women in control of a game …

Julie Snyder

Although at Radio-Canada, we have to go back a dozen years to find a single woman at the helm of a game show (thief package with Véronique Cloutier, from 2007 to 2010), management talks about a combination of circumstances.

“It’s not something you do on purpose; it’s not something we avoid on purpose, ”says Dany Meloul, general manager, television, of the public broadcaster.

The big head of programs argues that women occupy a good place in variety, which includes games. He quotes Véronique Cloutier with 1res NowFrance Beaudoin with Live from the universe as well as Élyse Marquis a Chef! “Women will remain at the helm of the great Radio-Canada programs, that’s for sure,” she stresses.


Véronique Cloutier in 2007 at the animation of thief packageon CBC

Networks will need to take a proactive stance if they are to make up for this lack of female representation, Julie Snyder believes. “It starts from a desire of the broadcaster. Decisions start from the top. ”

To correct the situation, the manufacturer also dreams of creating a sisterhood.

” The men’s clubs they have been around for a long time: guys who relax and do business with each other. Women, we haven’t developed a network. We didn’t form a club. It is not part of our education. I would like to develop it. To help each other. It is nothing against men. But we too are capable of calling each other to fix things. ”

Julie Houle does not know which path should favor the industry to restore balance, but one thing is certain, she wants it to happen without going through the imposition of quotas.

“Yes, I am a feminist, but I would be irritated to learn that I was chosen because I am a woman. I want to be recognized for my work. Representativeness, I believe, but with equal skills. ”

Not just in Quebec

The animation of television games is not just the prerogative of men in Quebec. The same phenomenon is observed in France. According to a study by the cultural magazine Telerama published in 2020, women accounted for 5% to 10% of quiz presenters in France. A brief review of the broadcasts is enough to realize this: Questions for a sample (Samuel Etienne), Each in turn (Bruno Guillon) Numbers and letters (Laurent Romejko), Don’t forget the lyrics (Nagui), Beat (Cyril Féraud)… In the United States it’s the same. In the entire history of the Daytime Emmys, which dates back to 1974, only five women have managed to break into the category of best gaming hosts and in the past five years they have not won any selection. Currently, the landscape is dominated by Pat Sajak (Wheel of fortune), Alfonso Ribeiro (Capture 21), Steve Harvey (Family feud) and Wayne Brady (Let’s make a deal). Canadian Alex Trebek (Danger!) was also part of the band until his death in November 2020. Finally, last year in the UK, he took over the helm of The trap of the answerin a new quiz on Channel 4, Anita Rani said there were “a lot of male hosts”.

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