Like South Park recommends, I'm going to blame Canada. In this case, I am blaming Canada for why I have still not gotten into Being Erica. The Jana Sinyor series premiered on CBC over two years ago, well before SOAPnet (which is now fading into the abyss anyway) picked it up. But now that it has been announced that its fourth season will be its final one, I feel it is time to finally sit down and enjoy the time-travel-y goodness about which everyone on Twitter and quite a few of my entertainment blogger friends have been raving.
But you know me (well, you should if you've been reading this blog consistently), and for a show to "stick" with me, it has to have some inherent hook about its protagonist(s) that I can relate to-- that I can see myself in. I'm not one for flashy gimmicks or high-fi FX or anything. I like good, old-fashioned storytelling. And if you can find a way to tell that same ole story in a new and interesting way, well, then I like it all the more! And according to Brandi, who started watching after getting a recommendation from Hulu and then reading an article about the show on my friend Vlada's site, that is exactly what Being Erica does.
"I'm not sure that Being Erica is much like any show I've ever seen before," Brandi considered. "While there is a time-traveling element to the story, it's definitely not a science-fiction series; it's rather a heartfelt comedy-drama about an imperfect yet perfectly relate-able character."
That was a sentiment Christine DeJoy, a long-time Being Erica fan from my old stomping ground Brooklyn New York, echoed: "Even though some of the story lines are 'fantastical', the underlying theme of a 30-something girl trying to balance out her career, family and love life is very real. Even if you are past that phase in your life, you can still relate to the themes being expressed. And if you are someone like myself, you can relate to Erica because you are going through the same things as the character is going through them.
"Erin Karpluk who plays the character of Erica is very unassuming and portrays the character in a way that any girl, in any part of the world can sympathize with and not harbor resentment to," DeJoy continued. "She's a natural in the role and even when her character is doing/did something you don't agree with, you are still able to see her motivations and understand them."
Sharing a hometown with the titular Erica, Katherine McGreechan found a number of other things similar between herself and the role made famous by the girl I mostly knew from Life Unexpected.
"We have a few things in common like a shared interest in the written word and literature as well as a shared Toronto childhood. Erica has grown stronger, more confident, and more beautiful-- inside and out-- as the series as progressed, and I would love to have an ounce or two of her charm and beauty...plus one or two of her boyfriends!" McGreechan noted.
But more than the surface stuff, the concept of having your life turn out in ways you didn't quite expect, let alone perhaps aspire to, was what sounded a bit familiar but also intrigued this particular fan. The fact that Erica gets to go back and change the direction of her life was just an added bonus; it was a way of living vicariously through a woman who might as well be any of us. Who hasn't wanted a do-over at at least one point in his or her life!?
Brandi may not yet be quite where Erica is in life, but she, too, sees herself echoed in the fictional woman's trials and tribulations: "Though I'm a bit younger than her character, I am certainly approaching that age and am also a single female just getting started in the career world. And I think anyone can relate to having regrets, and Erica has plenty."
But aside from Erica, each one of these three fans singled out the supporting actors as reasons they keep tuning in week after week.
"Michael Riley who plays Dr. Tom and Reagan Pasternak who portrays Julianne are fabulous," DeJoy pointed out. "They are both enigmatic characters, but they always leave you wanting more. They come across as major players in Erica's life but they don't overshadow her. The character of Julianne is the perfect comic relief, and Reagan Pasternak plays her with such conviction that leaves you going, 'Yeah. I totally know someone like her.' As for Michael Riley as Dr. Tom, well, I just don't think the presence of his character in Erica's life would be the same if played by anyone else!"
In order to get the best sense of where Erica is in her life, and just where all of these people fit in, it really doesn't seem fair to start with any episode other than the pilot. Seeing where she starts will only make the payoff that much greater when she begins to make strides both personally and professionally.
What seems to be even better about Being Erica is that above and beyond the characters and actors with whom you will inevitably fall in love and want to follow to other work, great attention is paid to the music, too. While there is an actual soundtrack to the series, the actor who actually plays the musician character of Kai (Sebastian Pigott) is not featured on it, which prompted McGreechan to scour iTunes for more from him. Being Erica has the whole package and inspires others not to settle for anything less either!
Unfortunately Netflix does not currently offer this series either for immediate online streaming or for your DVD queue so rather than click over to that website and give this seemingly charming little series a shot, I'm going to have to start with an angry letter to the service for not providing such creative, clever material. Somehow I think I could get quite a few other people on Twitter to sign my petition to get it added, though!