Have you ever not watched a television show because you identified too much with it? When I watched Sex and the City in my 20s, I really enjoyed storylines of older single women in the dating scene. Now that I’m the same age as Sarah Jessica Parker when the series started, I no longer find it (as) funny and kind of depressing.
There’s a new show that I avoided for similar reasons, but at the recommendation of a friend who told me I was being ridiculous (it’s always good to keep those people in your life) I began watching the show Being Erica .
Erica is a single Jewish woman in her early 30s who goes back in time to fix her past in order to have a better present. After the first episode, I was hooked and even became a “fan” of Being Erica on Facebook. My friend Jen Cohen Galet saw that on my newsfeed and connected me with the show’s writer and producer, her friend Jana Sinyor, a Jewish 30something Torontonian married with two kids.
Jana said the show appeals to all audiences, but Jewish people especially identify with Erica.
“She’s Jewish in a way which is recognizable to people who are Jewish. She’s not hyper observant, she’s culturally Jewish, although her father is a Reform Rabbi,” Jana said.
Being Erica deals with Jewish life cycle events like Bnai Mitzvah and Brit Milah.
“People who are educated and people who are more culturally Jewish than religious have trouble reconciling their education with Jewish law,” Jana said. “An episode in Season 2, Erica struggles with circumcision and her feelings about it.”
Although there are Jewish themes, most of the topics are universal. What do you do when someone you love is marrying the wrong person? How do you cope with jealousy and conversely monogamy? How do you deal with your family and society’s expectations of you?
“Erica is funny, smart, educated, attractive, but she is nowhere near where she is supposed to be in her life,” Jana said. “But the expectations are part of the problem. There’s not much wrong with Erica. She’s not a loser. She’s a normal person struggling with normal problems.”
Jana felt that pressure when she first graduated from college. With a liberal arts degree, she struggled to get a job. Her first break was working for the Canadian version of Sesame Street writing lines for puppets. With time, she became a writer on Degrassi: The Next Generation and a producer and writer of Dark Oracle.
“It can be very daunting, you’re smart and you are educated, something I saw everywhere, but there is a lot of pressure to have the things to have in place by the time you are 30,” Jana said. "This is very common in Jewish families. You must accomplish certain things by certain points and most people don’t.”
Amen Jana! Season 2 of Being Erica begins on Wednesday, January 20 at 9 p.m. on SoapNet and is downloadable via iTunes.