February 18, 2010By Joe Diliberto Posted: Feb 18, 2010
Since my colleague Mala Bhattacharjee took up the banner for one of my pet shows (MAKE IT OR BREAK IT), I figure it's only fair to beat the band for a show she turned me on to, BEING ERICA.
Produced in Canada, BEING ERICA follows book editor Erica Strange (Erin Karpluk) as she undergoes a special kind of therapy. Rather than let her merely talk about past mistakes, Dr. Tom (Michael Riley) sends Erica back in time to correct her regrets; to put right what once went wrong. The premise may sound like a science-fiction geekfest, but absolutely no time is wasted detailing exactly how Dr. Tom moves Erica in time. Instead, all the emphasis is on how Erica interacts with the people she meets (friends, family and lovers), and how she feels about what she's doing. (Usually, her sojourns give her a chance to dance; Karpluk does a lot of dancing.)
That said, this week's episode was an especially good example of the flexibility of the series: Instead of sending Erica back in time, Dr. Tom gave her one day to live without consequences — her own personal Groundhog Day. Erica used her free pass to indulge in some...colorful behavior and really speak her mind. She dictated terms to her boss and scolded her sister's husband for not being more considerate. Only when a tearful Sam confronted her did Erica realize why she doesn't speak her mind in the "real" world: because words can hurt.
By giving Erica license to indulge her selfish side, Dr. Tom led Erica to realize just how self-centered she is. This exercise demonstrated that every action has a reaction. This is not a lesson you see on a typical soap, where very few actions have lasting consequences. Shoot your kid? Bah, squeeze out a few tears in a chapel and then go back to being a gangster. Somebody died? Just wait — they'll be back. But on BEING ERICA, it's not so easy to recover from crimes of the heart.