Last month, Hulu threatened to expire Being Erica, so I used the inversion ritual of Leap Day to binge as many episodes as I could and…nothing happened. March 1 came and went, and Being Erica was still available. Is still available—lucky you!
For the day that’s in it, we’ll start with the Irish influence. Erica’s Season Three foil and—spoiler—Season Four boyfriend is an honest-to-goodness Irishman. He eats blood pudding and colcannon (even if the “Dublin” scene is clearly just Toronto with cars driving on the wrong side of the road) and beats people up for a living…or used to. He refers to Dublin as home and has the accent, although his flashback scenes all take place in Toronto, and we never learn at which point in his life he moved.
If I had my druthers, Being Erica would be only three seasons, with each of her three love interests corresponding to a single season (with some overlap, of course, to keep things spicy) and none of the product placement or barrel-scraping soap-operatic storylines (the baby Barb gave up before Leo). In a way, though, its unpolished, imperfectly Canadian sensibilities make it more lovable and accessible, like star Erin Karpluk’s crooked smile.
A few delightful details about Erica. Her collection of five short stories, Streams of Consciousness, and her poem, “Snowflakes,” are both destined for the—heh—slush pile. Her novel in progress is called Little Feats. She has a Dirty Dancing-themed bat mitzvah, with her Uncle Ruby dressed as Patrick Swayze, and nobody puts Baby in a corner…because she is now a woman. She screams at a thug, “Don’t mess with the babysitter,” (a classic line from Adventures in Babysitting with the swear word substituted), though she’s not actually babysitting in that episode. In an alternate reality, she gets fired by sticky note, like Carrie Bradshaw getting dumped by Post-it. At the end of Season Two, she has a panic attack in Camel Pose, and it is a terrifying performance. Camel pose is a heart-opener, and this scene still haunts me. Her lesson in that episode’s time-travel therapy session takes her back to grad school: “It is your thesis, your degree, your life. Figure it out, Ms. Strange.” That one haunts me, too.
As with this year’s 30 Day Yoga Journey by Yoga With Adriene, I was apologizing to my boyfriend every time he came in the room because the theme music is so grating. The soundtrack songs aren’t great either, including the very prominent placement of a Canadian cover of Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time.” The music does improve once Sebastian Pigott (a Canadian Idol 7th runner-up) joins the cast. “Alien Like You” justifies how Erica speaks for all of us when she admits: “I have a crush on a damaged rock star from the future.” Girl. His name is Kai Booker, and in one alternate reality, best friend Judith reminds Erica that she used to want to want to “win a Booker [Prize].” Heh.
Erica makes a list of her regrets, so I jotted down a list as well. “There’s more, of course, but these are the ones that keep me up at night.” I got 21 without even trying. When I began my rewatch, I had also just started seeing a life coach and was in a cycle/return that has me reliving the lessons from 2003-2005. Erica doesn’t begin group therapy until Season Three, which was about how far I had gotten when my own life coaching moved into a group context. (Really, it’s a Brené Brown Daring Greatly reading group, but I’m getting the same level of inspiration out of it.) The group model is useful in therapy, creative structure, and life: start off solo, work to encompass others and their stories, then finally grow to a place of helping others. I’m currently audiobooking Postscript, the sequel to PS I Love You, and it uses the group model to add more stories and diversity to the same theme.
Since Canada seems to only have a total of six actors, there’s some overlap between Being Erica and a current favorite, Letterkenny. Mrs. McMurray is one of the therapy group members (a sex-crazed drug addict, if I remember correctly) and, the biggest shocker of all, Gae is Katie Atkins. (Sarah Gadon is one of the few actors I have seen outside of the context of the show; she was Robert Pattison’s girlfriend in Cosmopolis in 2012). Julianne once popped up as a ho in some shoot-em-up, prompting me to yell “Julianne, get your clothes on” at the screen while my boyfriend was trying to watch a movie, and she showed up again in Sharp Objects as one of Camille’s prissy high school buddies. As with all things Canadian, Drake manifests, and Erica gets to bury him alive in the second episode. There is also some time-traveling joke about Jenny (Paula Brancati) appearing on Degrassi, but I don’t know the show well enough to track it. At the start of Season Two, we are introduced to Tatiana Maslany, a few years before she gifted us the acting masterclass that is Orphan Black. Toward the end of that season is also when I realized Zach is the Dick Casablancas of the show—he starts off as a total creep in a small role, but after a while, you kind of enjoy the lightness his knuckle-dragging comedy brings.
Oh, man, Season Three. Let’s start with what’s problematic: Ivan and David, cutely named after the co-creators of the show, are a gay couple and co-owners of Goblins. Sadly, they seem to exist only as props. In the Pride episode, Ivan goes “10% straight” for long enough to feel up Julianne, while Erica takes centre stage during the parade as she dons a RAINBOW HEADDRESS AND GETS PULLED UP TO DANCE ON A FLOAT by a fairy who calls her Pocahontas. Yeah, no. And the product placement: a Ford Fiesta in magenta. Erica buys her own Ford in Season Four, so she no longer has to awkwardly borrow Julianne’s to shoehorn the product into scenes where it doesn’t belong. The car is joined by Tetley Infusions when Julianne decides to switch from her 9, 10:30, and 3 o’clock lattes.
Halfway through Season Three, future-Kai warns present-Erica that something happens in 2019 that makes it impossible for him to find her in the future. Um, internet archives? We learn in Season Four that the 2019 incident is a bombing at Union Station during which hundreds of people die. Erica, mid-existential freak-out, receives a visit from her 43-year-old self (2020 Erica, that is) to explain how in this new timeline, she knows about the bombing and avoids it. NEITHER ERICA MAKES ANY MENTION OF TRYING TO STOP IT ALTOGETHER because fuck everybody else, right? [Insert COVID-19 reference here.]
Also, future-Kai tells present-Adam that Ireland wins the World Cup in 2018. Why???
Finally, a moment to honor the most consistent presence in Erica’s life: lattes. Pronounced Canadianly: leah-tays. From the hazelnut-mocha-mint latte sample that sends Erica into anaphylactic shock and gets this whole time-travel therapy ball rolling to the sub-par lattes she makes as Julianne’s assistant to the latte Dr. Fred spills on the street to the endless vanilla lattes she orders from Kai to the free lattes Ivan and David offer to sweeten the rental agreement to, finally, the wedding dress in the precise color of Cosmic Latte…we enjoyed every single one of them with her.
I love this weird little show. A show somehow structured around time-travel therapy, set in the publishing industry, and flavored with two identities I got to understand a little better: Canadianism and Judaism. And thanks to the Hulu algorithm, we get to revisit our girl in 2020 to make sure she’s doing OK.