My So Called Life...Truly...

Back in the day when Sex and the City was all the rage, I would always get “Hey, you’re a single writer and you live in a big city – you must relate to Carrie sooo much!” At which point I’d do a mental eye roll and calmly yet non-condescendingly explain that, not having Carrie’s fabulous career, salary, body and ability to purchase untold number of Manolos, Carrie’s character really didn’t “speak” to me. Not that it was an evil show – it’s just that Carrie’s character was practically my polar opposite. I’d rather be shot than caught sipping Cosmos at the latest Zagat-rated Manhattan hot spot. Which is poopy cause from SATC to Desperate Housewives to Cashmere Mafia to Lipstick Jungle, there’s been a dearth of shows that speak to gals like me. That is to say, thirty-something single, cat-owning women who have found themselves in dead-end careers being pitied by their married friends and asking themselves “What the hell happened to my life?” Until Being Erica. And for that I say hallelujah.

Debuting Monday night on CBC, Being Erica focuses on the life – or lack thereof – of Erica Strange, a 32-year old, under-achieving Torontonian who’s found herself in the midst of a mid-life crisis. The opening voice over sets the tone perfectly: “You know that woman who seems to have it all together? The career, the solid relationship, the family? Yeah, well. That’s not me.” Definitely a sentiment I can relate to. More than just a lamentation of singledom and cube life, Being Erica proves to be a quirky cross between My So Called Life and Joan of Arcadia while attempting to answer the question “If you could do it all over again, what would you change?” With the help of a mysterious therapist, Erica, played by Erin Karpluk, investigates her regrets and is given the opportunity for the ultimate ‘do over’, something I find rather tantalizing…starting with…oh…last Saturday night...but, as with MSCL and Joan, going back isn’t as clear cut and easy as it seems. Even as a 32 year old in a 17 year old body. Emotional and poignant, Erica humourously revisits her past and finds herself with more questions than answers. I know. Very existential, but I guess that’s the point.

Beyond the philosophical, Being Erica is solidly written and the timing of Karpluk is excellent. Karpluk can at once make hair removal hilarious (thank god I never used an Epilady!) and desperation accessible (“So pretty and such a disappointment”) thus making her character utterly relatable. Well, at least for me the disappointment part is. Ultimately, I wonder how limited the possibilities are, but I hope, like with MSCL and Joan, Being Erica holds up to its premiere and proves to have staying power. We – and by ‘we’ I mean us single thirty-something ladies pecking away in cubes – need more shows heralding imperfect beings and imperfect lives because, let’s face it, it could really be called Being Pam…which is I guess why Jer asked me to guest tonight…flattery will get you everywhere…

Single ladies tune in - Being Erica airs on CBC on Monday nights at 9pm.

About me...and, yes, I am perfectly comfortable speaking in the third person...actually I'm just lazy and copied an existing bio...

A Toronto-based writer and photographer, Pamela Westoby was raised abroad by corporate gypsies and lured back to Canada by the smell of poutine and a scholarship to the University of Western Ontario. A Girl Friday by day and student of pop culture by night, Pamela has sought to capture the glitz, glam, and grit of the metropolis and to truthfully document the kitsch and camp of Americana. A lover of Heineken and all things Hello Kitty, Pamela aspires to become a pageant judge and professional bowler.

Oh, and if you like Being Erica, you’ll love Pamela’s book, Hoyden!

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