October 6th, 2009
I’m in New York at the moment (my Twitter account likely reflects this), but I had a chance to catch this week’s Being Erica before I left. It’s, again, a return to the first season’s structure, hesitating to “open up” the show’s universe as much as the season premiere seemed to indicate. However, at the same time, the episode also reminds us that Judith as a character still exists, a problem with a show that deals with sending a character back to her past when some of the people in her life weren’t actually involved.
So, in many ways, the reason that Judith and her newborn haven’t been around Erica are quite similar to why they haven’t been on the show thus far this season, and “Mama Mia” does well justifying her absence and adding a few more shades to their relationship. The episode had a few hiccups, but it followed one of my favourite patterns for the show so it’s ultimately another enjoyable hour for the show.
Sometimes, Being Erica can seem way too “clean,” which is part of the show’s charm but also feels on occasion to be its most problematic element. When things tend to resolve themselves magically once Erica learns her lesson in her trip to another year, the show can feel formulaic, which is why I like when Erica’s post-journey moment of realization doesn’t so cleanly resolve her situation. Yes, we knew that she and Judith would reconcile eventually (this isn’t a show that allows a secondary character to entirely condemn our protagonist for being unreliable), but it was nice to not have her come out of her vision having entirely learned to know exactly how to solve her problems. She might now understand how hard Judith has it raising Max, but Judith is at wit’s end and it’s clear that she has more issues than just a pacifier. So, when they get together to talk about them over a glass of wine, it feels right.
The actual therapy session turned into “Wacky Baby Comedy” a bit too quickly for my tastes, especially when she THREW a poop filled diaper towards a garbage can and hit a car instead (who does that?). I also felt it misrepresented frosh week activities, but this is only from my own experience. The show has gone back to a period similar to this before, so the only real addition here was Erica taking care of Max. I liked that the message was less about Erica “fixing” something in her past and more about discovering what was at the heart of her current problem. Sometimes the show can make it seem as if her regrets are things that weigh on her, but in this instance it was largely something she had forgotten about, and which based on her friendship with Judith has simply persisted – that was a good thing to focus on, even if it turned into baby hijinks.
We also got to spend some more time with Kai, as Goblins has become “that coffee place Erica likes” (or, more accurately, the set that show paid to build). I think it’s interesting to show them becoming “friends” (reluctantly, on his part), as it allows Erica to try to push him in the direction of talking about it (since Dr. Tom won’t discuss Kai with her). I enjoyed her “just got back from 1992” banter, as it shows a fun side of Karpluk’s performance and also allows him to be slowly charmed into submission (so to speak) and eventually work himself more into the narrative. It’s also interesting to see him kind of shy away from details, which almost makes me think that he goes to the future instead of the past or something, but we’ll see in the weeks ahead.
The subplot of the episode (with Ethan only dropping in for a few scenes to confirm he’s still Erica’s boyfriend and that he enjoyed a good party back in University) with Erica’s mother worrying over Sam’s move to London didn’t really do much. It made sense to emphasize motherhood in an episode about taking care of a baby, but we didn’t learn much new as we could presume Sam didn’t want to move and that her mother wouldn’t be happy about her daughter making that decision. We’ll see if they bother to break up Josh and Sam, or if they use this as an opportunity for Josh to win some points.
- I’m not sure why Erica didn’t immediately think of her mother when the show was dealing with how Erica was going to take care of this baby in the distant past. It justifies all of the antics, but wouldn’t that be your first instinct?
- I think this episode was sponsored by a national bank, but I can’t be sure…
- Did we learn at any point that Julianne was sleeping with the new creative advisor? I feel as if I missed that memo in a previous episode, but I think now that it could have been the point of Brent’s email at the end of the last episode: I don’t know if it was cut or what, but it struck me as odd.