Arts·Group Chat

Jasmeet Raina's Late Bloomer is a nuanced take on finding success on his own terms

Comedian Marlon Palmer and culture critics Jackson Weaver and Stacy Lee Kong join Elamin to discuss the new dramedy ‘Late Bloomer’ starring Jasmeet Raina and why online creators making the jump to traditional Tv is more complicated than we think.

Marlon Palmer, Jackson Weaver and Stacy Lee Kong give their thoughts on the new dramedy Late Bloomer

A man wearing a turban poses for a portrait in front of an orange backdrop with a ring light framing his face.
Jasmeet Singh Raina, known as Jus Reign, sits for a portrait at the CBC Broadcast Centre, in Toronto, on Jan. 10, 2024. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

In 2018, Jus Reign — a.k.a Jasmeet Raina — quietly left his career as a YouTuber, going totally dark and left his audience to speculate about what happened.

His departure at the time was shocking because he was seemingly on top of the world. He had amassed over a million subscribers on YouTube, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and hosted the Much Music Video Awards.

Now, six years later, Raina is back in the spotlight, with an eight-part dramedy series called Late Bloomer, about balancing his ambitions for success with his commitment to his family, community, and culture.

Comedian Marlon Palmer and culture critics Jackson Weaver and Stacy Lee Kong join host Elamin Abdelmahmoud to discuss the Late Bloomer and why online creators making the jump to traditional TV is more complicated than we think.

We've included some highlights below, edited for length and clarity. For the full discussion, listen and follow the Commotion with Elamin Abdelmahmoud podcast on your favourite podcast player.

LISTEN | Today's episode on YouTube:

Elamin: Jackson, what is the premise of Late Bloomer

Jackson: I mean, I can give the elevator pitch in the time it takes to ride an elevator. Jus Reign is Jus Reign. And he's trying to make, you know, YouTube videos, TikTok videos and get relevant. 

Things aren't working as well as they should. And what's interesting is he's trying to revolutionise what it means to be an influencer. He wants to like, get meaningful stuff out there. It's funny, it's good. It's kind of that vibe that we see in so many of these character driven stories where it's a little bit sad, but I think it's more funny than sad.

Elamin: Jasmeet Raina, Jus Reign is someone that we've known for some time. Stacy, he was one of the first big influencers I can remember coming out of this country. When you watch his show, what stood out for you?  

Stacy: It's a lot more nuanced than what I expected based on what he was doing on YouTube. I think the message on YouTube was a little bit more simple. Not superficial, necessarily, but there wasn't as much going on in terms of the ideas and the themes he was trying to explore. 

So I found this time the storytelling was a lot more complex, and the show has space to explore contradictory ideas in a way that I don't think audiences want or expect from YouTube. At least when he was creating. 

Elamin: I did not anticipate wanting heavier themes from Jus Reign, but I think he's very deft at handling these. Marlon, you know Jus Reign from your own time as a comedian and content creator. What was it like seeing him go from the YouTube realm to the scripted television realm? 

Marlon: I've known Jus Reign for a while. He's so talented. I feel like this was just a natural progression for him. 

I too am a YouTuber, so I understand and was triggered throughout this entire thing. It's a very true to life story. And especially hearing him speak about why he made the show. It's almost biographical. You can see how he's playing out everything. All of his frustrations that he's had in real life stemming from YouTube.

Elamin: I think it's important to talk about this. We've seen online creators make this leap to traditional television with varying levels of success. We're talking about, like Issa Rae, Ziwe, Lilly Singh…

You get a fan base, but eventually you outgrow it and you have to start talking in a different way. And you got to figure out whether to keep growing or bring this home base with you, or just go do something else. What do you make of what [Jus Reign] is saying?

Marlon: I too stopped using YouTube about five years ago on a consistent basis. And it's mostly to do with a series of events. So they had "adpocalypse," which was years ago, where advertisers realise that their ads are playing on videos that they would not want their ads to be playing on. I saw my own pay go down 70 per cent. I was making 30 per cent of what I used to make. And that's not feasible if you want to make this a sustainable job. 

That leaves you with a sense of, "I don't control my destiny here anymore." I can't speak and be myself fully and maintain an audience while also paying my bills. And so you're seeing a lot more digital artists go to in real life. Everything in real life is way more sustainable because on digital, you can get cancelled tomorrow. 

You can listen to the full discussion from today's show on CBC Listen or on our podcast, Commotion with Elamin Abdelmahmoud, available wherever you get your podcasts.


Panel produced by Ty Callender

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eva Zhu is an Associate Producer for CBC. She currently works at CBC Arts and Syndication. She has bylines in CBC Books, Chatelaine, Healthy Debate, re:porter, Exclaim! Magazine and other publications. Follow Eva on X (formerly Twitter) @evawritesthings

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