Being Erica - Being Trini GRITS Part 1

>> Thursday, March 11

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. 
~Albert Einstein

I have a few guilty pleasures in my life, that in include movies and television. I love classic golden-age Hollywood films (think Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Gone With the Wind, etc.), Historical Period Films, the occasional romantic comedy, and Canadian/British Television Shows and Movies. If I could pick my own channel programming this is what I want to have as my line-up with a few extra things for my pure entertainment enjoyment, but we’ll get to that at a later post.


Currently, one of my favorite Canadian television shows is Being Erica (shown on Soap Net – can’t get Soap Net, no worries, you can watch it on HULU.com, even all the episodes from season 1). It’s about 30-something Erica Strange, who lives in Toronto and is dealing with the personal issues in her life due to the poor choice’s she has made. The show is in its second season and it hasn’t disappointed me yet. I enjoy it because I feel very strangely (no pun intended) that Erica is I, and that someone is telling my life in very real way on this show. Being Erica is described as My Name is Earl meets Pretty in Pink meets Back to the Future meets Quantum Leap meets Sex and the City.” That's a lot of meetings.

Let me give you a little background. The show opens with a voice over of Erica, explaining her life:
“You know that friend you have?  The girl who seems to have it all figured out?  She’s got the great job, the great guy, the great life.  Well, I’m not that girl. My Name is Erica Strange and I’m 32. I still work a dead end job and I’m still sleeping with my cat. I know people wonder why the cute girl with the great education and the great friends can’t get it together. There’s a simple answer: bad decisions. I could teach a course on messing up your life; really, I am that good at getting everything wrong. The worst part is, it wasn’t always like this. I used to be a rising star but these days, I just feel like a flame out. Okay, okay, so I know it’s my fault my life is where it’s at, but I figure I gotta catch a break some time, right?”

I couldn’t have written a better opener, this is my life story minus the sleeping with cat. In the very first episode of season one, Erica is fired from her job for being overqualified, stood up on the way to a date while in the middle of a torrential downpour. Needing sanctuary she runs into a coffee shop where she is given a sample latte, unbeknownst to her it’s a hazelnut latte and she lands herself a trip to the hospital because of her nut allergy; all in the same day. At the hospital, Erica meets Dr. Tom, a mysterious therapist, who quotes everyone from Plato to Sir Thomas Moore, who she will later find out can take her back in time for a chance to do over those life-defining moments with the foresight and wisdom of seeing how they played out.

After her hospital visit, Erica is stuck at her mother’s house, where her mother has secretly invited over her surgeon sister, investment banker brother-in-law, best friend, aunt and uncle for brunch to visit with Erica. While at the table everyone is asking Erica when is she going to get a real job and telling Erica that if she just got an MBA, that it would get her a foot in the door because, she’s so pretty and so smart and that if she did this and did that her life will get better and be great, yada yada yada (sounds like a regular Trini GRITS family dinner conversation).

Erica frustrated, hurt and feeling insignificant by her family runs out of the room not before yelling, “I know what you all think, that there is something wrong with me. That I’m such a disappointment, I get it but I am suffocating under the collective weight of your disapproval!” (I feel like this all the time, when it comes to my family. I wonder if I could say that next time we’re all having dinner, without Mama Trini trying to jump over the table and try to choke the life out of me. Nope, probably not so, I’ll just shut up and color)

Sneaking out of the house, Erica finds herself in front of Dr. Tom’s office, it always seems to mysteriously appear when Erica needs him. He asks her to not be a fence sitter and forces her to choose whether or not if given the opportunity would she go back and do things over. After much prodding she chooses yes. Dr. Tom asks her to write a list of all the moments in her life that she regrets. Upon finishing her list, which is pretty lengthy, Dr. Tom asks her about a specific moment in high school from her list and in the midst of talking about that moment, Dr. Tom transports her back to that time so she can redo it over. Erica returns back to the present realizing that she allowed everyone’s opinion of her outweigh her own opinion and that she should rely on her gut and go with that feeling because no one else’s opinions matter but her own. No one else’s life walk is her life walk. Her lesson is that she needs to be okay knowing that she is where she needs to be, when she need to be there, and when she is finished what she is supposed to be doing she will move on. 

The premise of the show is about asking, what you would do if you had the opportunity to go back and change the things in your life that you feel hold you back. It’s about what happens when life just doesn’t turn out as we expect it to. What if you had the benefit of hindsight and could alter those defining choices that you now regret?

The interesting point of the whole show is that Erica always comes back to the present not with a new altered life because of the changes and decisions she made in her new past, but she comes back with a new and altered way of thinking of her present and her past with new optimism for her future. This show plays to the very core of me, and the debate I face constantly in redoing/ reexamining certain moments in my life (we’ll get to me in part 2 of this post). It’s not about the changes you make in the past but the changes you make in the present. I highly recommend this show to anyone who is interested in viewing an intellectual comedy drama. Check it out for yourself. Stay Tuned for part 2 – focusing on Being Trini GRITS.

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