A Beginner’s Guide to Nanalan’: Canadian TV 101
Growing up in Canada is a delightful experience save for one thing: having to be subjected to the nation’s bizarre in house programming. The strangest show of all? Nanalan’.
You see, the Canadian government has long feared its citizens consume too much American media in the form of movies, music and television, and that we may be lacking a sort of ‘Canadian pop culture identity.’ Their solution was simple: shoehorning in oddball, often sub-par Canadian created shows into to YTV and Teletoon’s programming blocks – to nightmarish results. But of all these shows, none were as horrifying as Nanalan’, the children’s show that asked you to question everything and let the madness take control.
Below is a FAQ for the strangest export in Canadian history: Nanalan’.
What was Nanalan’ about?
Imagine spending your childhood summers exploring your grandmother’s backyard. Sounds nice, right? Okay, now imagine you and everyone around you looked and acted like they were on hardcore hallucinogenics. What was Nanalan’ about? Literally NOTHING.
Who were the main characters?
The show stars Mona, a bald green alien girl with a diabolical laugh, her grandmother AKA Nana, who owns the house and backyard (and entire planet?), and Nana’s dog
Russell Rusher, who serves as Mona’s primary friend / rival / love interest. Every episode revolved around Mona’s demonic misadventures out back while Nana babysat her. Did I say babysat? I meant neglected.
When was this show on the air?
Believe it or not, Nanalan’ aired for FIVE WHOLE YEARS between 1999 and 2004 in Canada and later the UK and USA.
Five years? How did you manage?
It was tough, but fortunately we only had to endure Nanalan’ in short bursts. Episodes would air as these three minute mini features in between other half hour shows on YTV.
Are those puppets?
Yup. Canadian programming had this weird obsession with puppetry in the ’90s. PJ Katie’s Farm…Don’t You Put it in Your Mouth…
Don’t You Put it in Your Mouth?
If Nanalan’ was so bad why would anyone watch it?
You have to understand this was before internet video was even a thing. If you wanted to watch something, there were no choices involved. You’d watch what the TV gave you and you’d like it, goddammit.
Couldn’t you turn away? Close your eyes? Go outside and play?
That’s the problem. Nanalan’ is smarter than that – smarter than me. It only ever aired during weekday mornings when I was too sick to go to school. So in my illness, I’d have just enough strength to turn the TV on, but not enough to retreat when I realized just what I would be subjected to. I was a prisoner on Nana’s Land.
Are you sure you’re not exaggerating to play up this whole bit? It sure sounds like it, dude.
Oh yeah? You think I’m making this stuff up? You think you could watch an episode, frequently asked question?
I bet I could, yeah!
Don’t say I didn’t warn you:
Okay…the song is sort of catchy so far…’Nanalan, Nanalan!‘
Just you wait.
Why does she talk like that?
She just ate toast and said, “breakfast.” Does this kid only ever say what she’s doing in a particular moment?
Welcome to 1999, my friend.
OH GOD WHY DOES NANA SOUND LIKE THAT?
You’re in her lan’ now.
I think watching this bald alien playing with bubbles is making me dumber.
Why do you think I’m an internet writer and not a physicist? I watched a looooooot of this stuff, buddy.
I’m so sorry, I didn’t know.
Finish the episode.
Do I have to?
Do it. Do it for Rusher.
Rusher ate the bubble. The episode ended. That was Nanalan’?
To a tee.
I…It…Can I watch more?
If you want – it’s practically all on YouTube.