All the Best Schitt on CBC Gem

NEXT looks at streaming Best Bets all week, today, CBC Gem.

Netflix might be battling with the likes of Crave and Prime for the best streaming content on the internet, but while the leviathans duke it out, we find refuge in the safe northern haven of CBC Gem. And Gem offers a totally free option. Offering CBC originals, offbeat independent productions and a (common)wealth of British content, Gem is the quirky cousin of big streaming behemoths.

We’re flocking to the platform not only to support Canadian media but to discover captivating new movies, documentaries and series that we just can’t find anywhere else. See: the British edition of The Office, PEN15’s haunting and hilarious look at 7th grade and a biopic of local legend Nav Bhatia, a.k.a. the Toronto Raptors Superfan.

Since Omicron has blessed us with more hygge time — that’s a Nordic term for the feeling of coziness and curling up at home — we’ve committed to scouring our favourite streaming platforms for hidden gems and not-to-be-missed new series. Read on for the best of CBC Gem.

Cast of Son of a Critch posing as characters from show

Son of a Critch

New and Notable

What: 1 season, 2 episodes
Where: Gem
Genre: Comedy
When: Now, new episodes every Tuesday
Why you should watch: If Cady Heron from Mean Girls was actually an 11-year-old boy starting junior high in Newfoundland, you’d get the concept for Son of a Critch. Critch is a peculiar, wise-beyond-his-years kid who is immediately a fish out of water at school. Based on the childhood of 22 Minutes mainstay Mark Critch, this coming-of-age story with a Newfie accent is hilarious and charming.

Cast of Bad Rap posing as characters from the show

Bad Rap

Hidden Gem

What: Documentary, 82 mins.
Where: Gem
Genre: Music doc
When: Now
Why you should watch: Featuring battle rap king Dumfoundead and a young Awkwafina, this 2016 low-budget-vibe doc explores the roles race and gender play in the hip-hop industry as it follows four Korean-American rappers in their efforts to make it big.

Screenshot from Sort Of

Sort Of

What: Season 1, 8 episodes, 30 mins.
Where: Gem
Genre: Dramedy
When: Now
Why you should watch: Shot in Toronto and packed with original music from five up-and-coming YYZ artists, this sarcastic and heartwarming coming-of-age narrative is anything but derivative. Sabi, a non-binary 25-year-old nanny, bartender and the youngest child of a Pakistani family is brimming with ennui for their life thus far — until a fateful accident changes everything.

Lead actresses from PEN15 sitting in kid's desks

PEN15

What: 2 seasons, 25 episodes, 30 mins.
Where: Gem
Genre: Comedy
When: Now
Why you should watch: How to put this … two grown-ass women play the 7th grade versions of themselves in a fantastic blaze of brace-faced, razor-scooter riding glory. PEN15 contains so many truthisms about early teenhood, it will have you snort laughing and involuntarily cringing at the memory of your own experiences.

Workin' Moms promotional image

Workin' Moms

What: 6 seasons, 59 episodes, 21 mins.
Where: Gem
Genre: Comedy
When: Now
Why you should watch: You don’t have to be a working mom to like the raw humour in this Toronto-set series. Helmed by comedian Catherine Reitman (Black-ish, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), it sees the trials and tribulations of balancing a career and a family through the eyes of some seriously funny women (and an all-female writer’s room and lead camera crew, to boot). Even Netflix loved this show so much it bought the rights — but let’s keep this thing Canadian and watch on Gem.

Cast of the British Office posing as characters from the show

The Office (British)

What: 2 seasons, 14 episodes, 30 mins.
Where:  Gem
Genre: Comedy
When: Now
Why you should watch: So, you drank The Office Kool-Aid. You’ve got the Michael Scott quote mug, the Dundler Mifflin stationary and probably have dressed up as Dwight Schrute for Halloween. Now it’s time to up the ante: Watch the original, British version of The Office. Featuring comedian Ricky Gervais, that guy from Pirates of the Caribbean and the pornstar from Love Actually in leading roles, the original edition is a masterclass in dry humour.

Promo image for last season of Schitt's Creek

Schitt’s Creek

What: 6 seasons, 80 episodes, 21 mins.
Where: Gem
Genre: Comedy
When: Now
Why you should watch: The quirky Canadian comedy that took the world by storm is available in its entirety on Gem. A nine-time Emmy-winning cult favourite, Schitt’s Creek sees Canadian comedy royalty  Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy and Annie Murphy as the Roses, a filthy-rich clan that abruptly goes broke. The tale of the little family that could, it follows the Roses through the growing pains of running a roadside motel in Schitt’s Creek, a town they once bought as a joke.

Contestants from the Great Canadian Baking Show

The Great Canadian Baking Show

What: 5 seasons, 42 episodes, 45 mins.
Where: Gem
Genre: Food
When: Now
Why you should watch: Inspired by The Great British Bake Off, The Great Canadian Baking Show features 10 amateur bakers competing in (surprisingly nail-biting) challenges to vie for the top spot. The prize? A cake stand. With the emphasis on the experience and not the prize, unlike other competition-style reality shows, there’s no hard feelings between contestants.

Feel your heart grow three sizes as you watch contestants cheer each other on while making the most delectable treats ever seen on screen. Hot tip: Dan Levy hosts Seasons 1 and 2.

Nav posing in Raptors gear

Superfan: The Nav Bhatia Story

What: Documentary, 44 mins.
Where: Gem
Genre: Sports doc, inspirational
When: Now
Why you should watch: If you’re a Raps fan, you’ve most likely heard of Nav Bhatia. Dubbed the “Superfan” for attending every single home game since 1995, Bhatia is a local hero — but this all came after he was forced to flee India in the ’80s due to military force targeting Sikhs and overcoming another set of struggles as an immigrant arriving in Canada. Featuring interviews with head coach Nick Nurse, Canadian comic Russell Peters and players Vince Carter and Isaiah Thomas, this CBC original is an inspiring and heartfelt look at our country’s strongest cheerleader.

Actress from Showtrail

Showtrial

Where: Gem
What: 1 season, 5 episodes, 60 mins.
Genre: Crime drama
When: Now
Why you should watch: In this BBC-helmed production, posh Bristol university student Talitha Campbell is accused of murdering a college classmate. Staring straight at the mired intersection of class and crime in moody tones of grey, Showtrial follows the high-profile murder case as defence lawyer Cleo Roberts grapples for the truth, uncovering the thorny inner world of her client along the way.

Black and white photo from A Life in Ten Pictures

A Life in Ten Pictures

What: 1 season, 6 episodes, 50 mins.
Where: Gem
Genre: Documentary
When: Now
Why you should watch: Sure, a picture speaks 1,000 words, but what does it say about the biggest pop culture icons of the last century? This new BBC series selects 10 of the most telling photographs from the lives of icons like Tupac Shakur, Elizabeth Taylor and Amy Winehouse. Interviewing close friends, lovers and those behind the lens, each episode tells the story behind a different legend.

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