Escapism For Canada’s Brunettes

I recently watched an episode of Being Erica which began with Erica awakening to find her bed empty. Her boyfriend, shirtless under an apron, greets her from the kitchen, where he’s cooking breakfast. He is ridiculously handsome, and has underwear model abs. After embracing Erica, he offers her a day of shopping with his credit card.

It’s escapism for Canada’s women, and that’s excellent. We’ve had fifty years male fantasy in the form of Gunsmoke, Magnum PI and Two and a Half Men, so it’s high time to even up the score.

On a related note, in its first season, the show depicts all five of its recurring blonde female characters as villainnesses, or at least difficult and a little bitchy. The show’s creator? A brunette.

For those new to Being Erica, the show has a wacky premise. In the pilot, Erica meets Dr. Tom, a kind of metaphysical therapist who transports her back to various points in her life, where she inhabits an earlier version of herself. The time travel stems from the idea that Erica has many regrets, and the time travel enables her to correct past mistakes.

But here’s the thing: more often than not, she cannot or does not change the past. The show’s message is also a kind of (gender-neutral) fantasy: my life is the indelible sum of past actions, and it’s inevitable and right. There’s something very assuring in that idea, and reflects our culture’s current fetishization of “absolutely no regrets”. I’m not sure that’s a great lesson, but only a stupid man would turn to television shows was lessons.

I’m only ten episodes into the first season, and I’m actually enjoying it. The writing is entertaining, and the leads are strong. I’m proud to say that the actress who plays Erica, Erin Karpluk, is from my alma mater. I’ve tried six or eight Canadian series, and this is the one that’s stuck. I’m going to give Combat Hospital a try, too, as I think that passes the Canadian test.

Speaking of the Canadian test, how Canadian is Being Erica?

  • The cast occasionally acknowledges that they’re in Toronto, and we see iconic Toronto locations like the ferry to Toronto Island.
  • One of the recurring characters if French Canadian.
  • I’ve spotted some Canadian currency.
  • One of the characters works as a columnist at The Globe and Mail (she seems modeled on Leah McLaren).

If an American wasn’t paying close attention, though, they could watch several episodes without realizing the show was Canadian. So, I give it two out of five poutines.

 

 



  1. rebekah (Reply) Posted on July 21, 2011

    Don’t forget that much of the show’s soundtrack is Canadian, too!

    Love Being Erica, and yes, I ‘m brunette. :)

  2. Terence (Reply) Posted on July 21, 2011

    I love Being Erica, but I think some of your points are because you have only caught the first year. The show gets even better in season two. Season three is definitely worth watching but does not beat the second season IMHO.

    She is not supposed to be able to change the past, but technically she does alter it a little just about every time she goes back.

    ‘my life is the indelible sum of past actions, and it’s inevitable and right.’ Hmm, I am not sure what you mean by ‘right’ in this sentence but there are times in later episodes where she doesn’t walk away thinking ‘maybe it was a good thing after all’ so much as ‘ok, that sucked just as much as I remember it but there really isn’t anything I can do to change it, but perhaps I can deal with it and help others do the same.’

    Being Erica also gets a lot more complicated in many other ways as the episodes progress, that I hope you enjoy.

  3. kc dyer (Reply) Posted on July 21, 2011

    Last year when I was in NYC, there were huge posters for Being Erica all over time square. So I guess some Americans are watching!

    I’m not sure if your media time extends to radio, but I wanted to recommend Afghanada, a radio drama that’s been running 4 or 5 years on CBC. You can listen to the podcasts. I’m kinda interested as to what will happen to it now that Canadian combat troops have been withdrawn from Afghanistan, but I guess that remains to be seen. Anyway, it’s definitely worth a listen!

    ~kc

  4. Wanda (Reply) Posted on July 25, 2011

    I’ve really enjoyed Being Erica and am glad it managed to squeak in another season to air this September. Other shows that I’m enjoying and don’t hide their Canadian bases are Flashpoint, Rookie Blue and The Listener. They all have Canadian locations, actors, writers, directors, etc. Can’t say that I’m all that enthralled with Combat Hospital. Recently watched the movie Defendor. Though it stars Woody Harrelson, it’s filmed in Canada, written and directed by Canadian Peter Stebbings and has a number of Canadian actors in it: Sandra Oh, Elias Koteas, Kristin Booth. It’s well written and filmed. Very polished and funny.

  5. Roshan (Reply) Posted on July 26, 2011

    I love this show. I find it funny & entertaining and can’t wait for me (in season 2 now).

  6. Stuff I Have Written Elsewhere

    [...] Escapism For Canada’s Brunettes – “Her boyfriend, shirtless under an apron, greets her from the kitchen, where he’s cooking breakfast. He is ridiculously handsome, and has underwear model abs.” This is a look at “Being Erica”, my favourite new Canadian TV show I’ve discovered as part of my One Year, One Canadian project. [...]