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CBC time-travel comedy relives 90’s
TORONTO – If only she knew then what she knows now, things could have turned out so differently.
So begins the quirky time-travelling series “Being Erica,” an hour-long dramedy that follows the neverending growing pains of thirty-something underachiever Erica Strange.
Fired from her mediocre job, dumped by her Lavalife boyfriend and berated by her family for her string of failures, Erica traces her woes to mistakes made in her past.
She’s offered a second chance to get things right when her mysterious new therapist actually sends her back in time to relive the moments she regrets most.
But despite the sci-fi leanings, the show is much more than its “Back To The Future” premise, insists star Erin Karpluk, noting that each episode delves into universal neuroses over friends, family and relationships.
“The time-travel element is there more as catalyst for her learning these lessons and going back in time,” says the bubbly Karpluk, who starred in the 2005 comedy-drama “Godiva’s.”
“I’m hoping that people identify with her because I think anyone, regardless of age, sex, race, class, gender, has regrets. I think there are times in everyone’s life where they wish that they could go back and have a do-over.”
A great deal of the show’s charm is the hearty embrace of each year that’s portrayed, says Karpluk, who’s forced to don outrageouly dated hairstyles and fashions each week.
The CBC series kicks off Monday with Erica thrown back into high school, circa early 1990s – and the “90210” fashions and Shannen Doherty bangs are enough to give anyone who lived through that era a shameful dose of regret. The hit-laden soundtrack helps set the tone with past gems by Nirvana and Fine Young Cannibals.
Later episodes include one set in the Y2K era – with Erica dolled up like “Sex and The City” fashionista Carrie Bradshaw – and one set in the 1970s, before Karpluk’s character was born.
The clever premise also means the misfit heroine is continually sent on a rollercoaster of emotions through youthful traumas and life lessons – other episodes see Erica relive the death of her brother, the loss of her virginity (involving sex in a canoe), and what she recalls as her perfect day.
“And you think that (perfect day) would be fun but as a 32-year-old woman in a 17-year-old body it becomes a lot more complicated than she had originally hoped,” says Karpluk, whose mysterious therapist is played by Michael Riley of “This is Wonderland” fame.
Even though the slick “Being Erica” has yet to officially air, CBC programming executive Kirstine Layfield says the ABC-owned cable channel Soapnet picked it up for broadcast in the United States while BBC Worldwide picked up international rights to the series.
Karpluk says it’s a smart show that should have wide appeal.
“It never wraps up in a neat little bow, it’s never like, she’s learned not to be bullied and that’s it for the rest of her life. Or not to care what people think about her because that’s not what life is,” says Karpluk, originally from Jasper, Alta.
“Life is very messy and awkward…. You can’t change the past, and in her situation, even if theoretically you can change the past, you still can’t change the past. But what she learns is that she can change the present by making smart choices and shaping her futu re.”
“Being Erica” airs on CBC-TV on Monday.