Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Being Erica

Last night was the debut of the new TV series Being Erica. The CBC's been advertising it like mad for the past few weeks. (You Canucks know what I'm talking about. For those of you who live elsewhere, I think--and hope--there is still something in this entry to entertain you.)

Being Erica is the story of a young woman who feels deeply dissatisfied with her life, in all the usual TV ways: her career is going nowhere and her friends are getting married off while she has yet to find a good man. She is haunted by the bad choices she has made in life.

On one terrible day, she gets fired, her date cancels at the last minute, the sky opens up and pours on her, and she goes into anaphylactic shock from drinking a free latté containing nuts. In the hospital, she is approached by a mysterious stranger (funny how many of those there are on TV) who promises to help her turn her life around... by sending her back in time.

We turned in with low expectations, and that was a good thing. Besides offering up a nice assortment of clichés, the show relies heavily on the sexual exploitation of its actress (the delightfully onomatopoeically-named Erin Karpluk) to drum up viewer interest. To some degree, that was made clear in the ads, which show Erica spinning around and magically appearing in a succession of hot-looking outfits. While in one of the outfits, an ensemble involving a little pair of shorts and a shoulder bag, she wiggles her hips unsubtly, not once or twice but five or six times. It was unintentionally hilarious.

Still, I was unprepared for just how low they were willing to stoop. While she is reliving the high school dance that led to her being branded a slut, Erica, despite being completely sober, does something so ridiculous that no one in their right mind would ever do it, something that culminates in her walking into the middle of the party naked but for strips of toilet paper wrapped around her naughty bits.

The shot was as close to soft-core porn as prime-time CBC gets. Why were they willing to squander their character's credibility to achieve it?

James suggested that they did it in order to get the men to watch a show centered on a female character and female interests. But most directors find a display of cleavage to be sufficient. The debut episode of Being Erica had that and much, much more.

This morning, with the salient details still burned into my brain, I found myself wondering how much of a role boob size and shape had played in the casting. You don't get that Penthouse silhouette by sheer chance; they must have made it a priority. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at that booty, ahem, casting call.

Despite this shameless pandering, and other noticeably protruding flaws on display, there is hope for this show. The ending was a refreshing reversal of expectations, both for Erica and the viewer, and the message a worthwhile one.

Also, for those of us who came of age in the eighties, the soundtrack has ample nostalgia value.

So if you can get past these problems, you might want to tune in. If you're in search of cheesecake, you'll definitely want to.


premiere luvvah said...

I really enjoyed the premiere, though I found the second ep. boring. I hadn't considered the points you make, so thanks. I will ponder those. :)

As for the toilet paper scene, I found that hard to believe. Nice that she put her friend's welfare above her reputation, but she could have simply stood at (behind) the door and tried to get someone's attention. People still would have talked, but it wouldn't have been as over the top, and more realistic.

Vivian said...

Myself, I thought she could have asked her friend to bring her a change of clothes *before* she took off the soiled ones. That's what I would have done.

Thanks for commenting, luvvah.

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