Yeah, we get it, Being Erica is set in Toronto

Being Erica

I just watched the premiere of CBC’s Being Erica, a show I was hopeful about a few weeks ago because of stuff it produced that it turns out has nothing to do with the show.

I was worried that this would turn into another amateur-produced series with cliché-crammed scripts that scream “this is a Canadian-produced show that wouldn’t survive 10 seconds south of the border”.

After the first episode, it’s too early to tell either way whether the show is worth watching. There’s plenty of cliché in it (rain starts pouring instantaneously when her date totally disses her). But there’s just enough nudity insanity later on to make up for it… I think.

I’ll let you know when I form an opinion. Until then you can watch it and form your own.

One thing that does annoy me (and, I imagine, most of the country) is the constant unnecessary references to Toronto. The high-school setting is set in 1992 (and makes a joke about a home computer that is at least a decade older than that), and references to the Blue Jays winning the World Series are inserted everywhere. The actual printed word “Toronto” appears at least four times in the 45-minute episode by my count. Even Sex and the City doesn’t reference its home city as often.

I’m starting to wonder if the city doesn’t have some product placement contract with the series somewhere, or if the Torontonians behind CBC television programming are really that obsessed with name-dropping their home town.

UPDATE: The premiere’s ratings were good or awful, depending on who you ask, but it’s hard to judge because the World Junior Hockey Championship on TSN sucked away most Canadian viewers. Nevertheless, critics seem to like it.

Inside the CBC has a post about Being Erica’s social media strategy (which will no doubt be analyzed to death on every Canadian social media blog). It includes the blog and YouTube videos I raved about earlier, as well as a fake Facebook profile (isn’t that a no-no on Facebook?).

UPDATE (Jan. 16): I just watched Episode 2, which apparently tried to make up for all the Torontoing of the pilot by mentioning Montreal seven too many times, and name-dropping some other towns too (Etobicoke?). Is the CanCon Committee paying them for every mention of Canadiana?

20 thoughts on “Yeah, we get it, Being Erica is set in Toronto

  1. Denis McGrath

    JESUS CHRIST.

    If it’s filmed in Toronto and it doesn’t call attention to the fact that it’s in Toronto, it gets shit for that.
    If it’s filmed in Toronto and it does call attention to the fact that it’s in Toronto, it gets shit for that.
    If it’s filmed in Toronto and it tries to stand in for another city, it gets shit for that.
    And if it’s NOT filmed in Toronto and it’s SET in Toronto (Blood Ties) it gets shit for THAT.

    If you’re not in Toronto, you need to GET THE FUCK OVER IT. Seriously.

    The regional, provincial, bullshit hate thing is second rate, pissy anty WTF high school bullshit, and in an industry that’s beleaguered at every turn, it’s the one element that’s just well nigh uncontrollable.

    For Christ’s sake, WE ARE SORRY WE ARE THE LARGEST CITY IN CANADA.

    Okay? Ok? If a million people move to Montreal tomorrow, will you get all up in their grill? Or are you, the collective you, ever, ever, ever, ever going to let this go? Because if the answer is not, then it’s hopeless, and the three million of us who pay the bulk of money for your social services are just going to have to dismiss you as a bunch of whining babies and move on.

    Fuck!

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I don’t have a problem with series set in Toronto (I wish some would be set in Canadian cities other than Toronto, but that’s another matter). The problem is when a series is set in Toronto and screams “THIS SERIES IS SET IN TORONTO” all over the place to the point where it gets distracting.

      Just make it a bit more subtle next time is all I ask.

      Reply
  2. zara

    Anyway, back to the subject at hand, I agree, it was nothing like I expected after seeing the excellent teaser clips on line. What it turned out to be was actually pretty good and considering the long list of “bad choices” she submitted to, euh, whatever that guy is supposed to be, they certainly have a lot of material to work with. But still, this theme could get old fast. Let us hope it does not just turn into some Canadian tv version of “Peggy Sue Got Married”.

    And btw, I read your post before checking out the show last night and well, I have to say that even looking for it, I did not feel assailed by TO branding. But yeah, that computer was ridiculous.

    Reply
  3. steve

    I caught the last fifteen minutes, had a chuckle, and then looked up the repeat night online. Then, much to my surprise, I found the first episode available for free on iTunes. That’s a great way for CBC to push the show.

    Reply
  4. steve

    Although it was lots of fun to watch Denis blow a gasket, Being Erica doesn’t beat the viewer over the head with Toronto references any more than, say, Intelligence bandied about the Vancouver setting.

    The show’s got a good “Single Weird Female” vibe, like Joan of Arcadia or Wonderfalls. I hope it does well.

    Reply
  5. Richard Botsford

    I thought the patio scene looked like it was in Port Dalhousie , Ontario, that is why I searched and found this web site, wonder if anyone knows where filming was .?

    Reply
  6. Sue

    um.. not all Canadian shows are set in Toronto. Corner Gas, Little Mosque on the Prairie, This Hour has 22 Minutes, The Rick Mercer Report, Trailer Park boys, Durham County, Project Runway Canada for examples. I would name more, but those are the only canadian shows (other than Canadian Idol, Flashspoint and SYTYCD) I actually know of.

    Your comment reminds me of the collective group in an Association I worked for. Even though we hadn’t held the annual conference in Toronto in over 5 years and made it a point not to have it in Toronto for at least 3 more (and before that maybe once every 3 years, alternating with Ottawa and random smaller cities), 70% of our respondents to our most recent survey on the conference all bitched that it was always in Toronto. You can’t win. You really can’t.

    Personally, I didn’t notice all the mentionings of Toronto, but I do agree that it is very annoying when they do that. No one does that in real life. Funny thing about Flashpoint, they don’t mention the city at all and people are complaining about that, too. You can’t win.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Fagstein » Being Erica’s regrets

  8. Brad

    First off I’m not even from Toronto I’m from Ottawa. I just watched the first episode of “Being Erica.” On the subject of it being set in Toronto with blatant references I say why not? It is quite frustrating how the rest of the country seems to hate on Toronto and whines that Toronto is so over represented when it comes to television etc. I’m sure that if the show referenced YOUR hometown you would be pretty excited about it. Given that Toronto is the largest city in Canada you would think that the rest of the country could relax a little and overlook a reference here and there (4 references is not really terrible for the first episode of a series, it is establishing where the show is set! and you’d have to be nitpicking and looking for it to notice it). A key element of the show is obviously memorabilia and so the people watching it who did live in Toronto back in those years would appreciate the fact that the Blue Jays world series is mentioned. I loved Sue’s comment regarding how their company avoided booking conferences in Toronto because people would complain. It’s so true, people avoid Toronto because the rest of Canada is just so hateful of it. Often I run into Canadian west coasters on vacation and when I say I’m from Ontario they moan and groan and say how awful Ontario is. Then I ask them if they have actually been to Ontario and most of them haven’t! Am I the only one outside of Toronto who actually likes the city. I like all Canadian cities and if the show were set in Vancouver and mentioned Vancouver 3 or 4 times I’d be fine with it too! You really can’t win, Flashpoint is the perfect counter-argument as mentioned here, they don’t reference the city much and people are complaining about that! Can’t we attain a level of maturity in Canada where we can just relax a bit and not moan and groan and complain where a series is set! Imagine this mentality in the States where probably some 50 percent of shows are set in New York or LA.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I don’t think TV shows should hide where they’re set, but I don’t think they should bang us over the head with it either. Make the references natural, not tacked on.

      Reply
      1. joan

        rooo don’t you have anything else to comment about the show? Yes, it takes place in Toronto and they mention the city, the suburbs, other Canadian cities…So they should have pretended they are somewhere else? Like Queer as Folk, with the life of gay guys in Pittsburgh though they actually made most of the scenes on Church street in Toronto? Why don’t you comment aaaalll the American productions, where we can see the US flag every five minutes? I live in Toronto, but I’m not Canadian, I’m European, and I can tell you that if you paid attention to everything that comes from North America, especially the US, you wouldn’t make such a big deal for hearing about Etobicoke, Brampton or Stratford in the show. And seriously, if this is all that you focused on about this show, I hope you don’t call yourself a critic.

        Reply
  9. Gillian

    Ok, either I’m a bit dense (always a possibility) or just don’t have a bee in my bonnet about Toronto but I didn’t notice any of the Toronto references. In fact I came online having watched the first episode of Being Erica because I was interested to find out where it was set.

    Oh, and I’m from Scotland by the way.

    Reply
  10. Sylvie

    I’m just laughing coming back here and reading this, because it’s actually got a strong following in the US. Hell, most of my friends are American, and THEY were the ones who got me to watch the show!

    Reply
  11. Dana

    My dad watched the first episode with me and he didn’t even realise in was in Toronto till I was through the second season, when he saw the credits. Maybe he just doesn’t pay attention lol.

    I think it’s fair enough to mention it again and again. They’re obviously proud and don’t want to people to assume it’s an American show.

    Reply
  12. Bailey

    I’m from Toronto, and now I live in Vancouver. It wasn’t until I moved here in 2009 that I learned about this Toronto/Vancouver love hate relationship. I told my friends in Toronto, and none of them were aware of the regional crap that Denis mentioned above. I have to wholeheartedly agree with Denis, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    When Being Erica premiered I was living abroad and it did my heart so well to see the city I called home and the streets I walked daily to get to work downtown. Quite the cure for homesickness, and a very good show too. Yet I don’t recall being beaten over the head with “This is Toronto” sentiment. I think the author, Fagstein, must have issues with Toronto, because as everyone has said, they also didn’t notice Toronto being overstated in the episode. And there is no single show that surpasses the mentions of “New York” in Sex and the City, so clearly Fagstein does not watch that show or the following movies.

    After the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, much was said in the media about Canadians “FINALLY” showing patriotism by butting the Canadian flag on their cars, waving it around, wearing clothing with the flag on it, etc. We’ve always loved our country, but I suppose this was the first time we collectively caught the media’s attention. If the producer of this show loves Toronto, why can’t it be featured the same way that New York is featured in Sex and the City, NY is a character in that show, and Toronto is DEFINITELY not featured as heavily. Fagstein, do you complain about “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” featuring Philly too much? Do you complain about Boston being featured in Cheers? Shows have done this forever, but when it is Toronto featured you have a pickle up your but. These days people are so damn judgmental and often fail to think before they speak or type. As the many before me have said, we don’t see what you are seeing.

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  13. david

    well I guess I am the only one who thinks this show sucks, but that does’nt mean anything really, it could just be that I watch cbc from time to time for the news mostly and you all watch everything cbc airs(sad and pathetic) CANADIAN SHOWS SUCK!!!! with the exception of degrassi(the origional of course) Trailor Park boys and 22 minutes, oh ya so erica, you can travel back in time and change the future? what kind of an audience are you? are you a bunch of 6th graders who can watch a show and not care how obviously impossible the plot is?

    Im sorry but stop being so proud to be canadian and have some fucking standards in what you watch. Corner gas …stupid!!! little mosk…even more stupid, MR D as stupid as it gets!!!!

    I will admit beng erica is not as bad as those dumbing down shows but the only reason to watch being erica would be to laugh at how hard it tries to be a real televison show worthy of a real audience.

    and this Toronto rivalry? its torontonians that made it up, it doesnt exist, who cares if its the biggest city in Canada, it would be one of the smallest major citys in the united states, there is alot of major citys in the USA, Visit New york once and you will see how average a city Toronto is, I mean that and im a huge leaf and Jays fan, there are some really cool parts in toronto, but people in toronto actually think its kind of like new york and its not even 1/100th of how cool New york is, get over your selves

    Reply
  14. coronation53

    I just started watching the first season on DVD and love seeing the Toronto street scenes as I lived there for 20 years.

    I was very pleased to see a series that demonstrated the cosmopolitan feel of Toronto, although it focuses a bit too much on The Annex and other obviously “cool” areas. I guess this is to be expected.

    Some posters here are correct to point out that we Canadians have a well-documented inferiority complex to work out.

    I would suggest that one spend some time in New York to develop some sense of comparison and scale. Then come home and seek out the many things in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal that are just as interesting. This helped me get things more in perspective.

    It is a good show, one of the best things CBC has done in a long time. The lead actor is outstanding…and I think that the series has a general appeal that goes beyond a merely Canadian vibe.

    Reply

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