Science Fiction Film & Television

The popularity of time travel in contemporary media

Being Erica and time travel as individualised consumer choice

Science Fiction Film & Television (2013), 6, (3), 387–408.

Abstract

This article is concerned with the growing presence of time-travel narratives in popular culture. It explores the ideological function of this popular sf trope through a close examination of a generically hybrid time-travel/dramedy series, Being Erica (Canada 2009-11). With its protagonist Erica repeatedly sent back in time by her therapist to confront and fix her regrets from her past, the show explores, playfully, the integrity and reliability of personal memory and identity. However, this article argues that time travel also serves another and more significant function in the show: it responds to the two highly powerful discourses of contemporary living, namely individualism and consumerism.

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Penley, Constance. ‘Time Travel, Primal Scene and the Critical Dystopia’. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2004. 126-35. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader 126 35 Google Scholar

Rascaroli, Laura. ‘Time Travel and Film Spectatorship in 12 Monkeys and Strange Days’. The Science Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Gregg Rickman. New York: Limelight, 2004. 355-66. The Science Fiction Film Reader 355 66 Google Scholar

Redmond, Sean. ‘Preface to Part Four: The Origin of the Species: Time Travel and the Primal Scene’. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2004. 114-15. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader 114 15 Google Scholar

Sobchack, Vivian. Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film, 2nd edn. New York: Ungar, 1987. Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film Google Scholar

Yesilbas, Amanda. ‘The Hottest Trend in Recent Korean Television: Time Travel. For Love’. io9 (15 Jan 2013). http://io9.com/5975880. Accessed 20 Mar 2013. http://io9.com/5975880 ‘The Hottest Trend in Recent Korean Television: Time Travel. For Love’ io9 Google Scholar

Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid Modernity. London: Polity, 2000. Liquid Modernity Google Scholar

Bauman, Zygmunt. Society Under Siege. London: Polity, 2002. Society Under Siege Google Scholar

Bauman, Zygmunt. Consuming Life. London: Polity, 2007. Consuming Life Google Scholar

Bauman, Zygmunt. ‘Identity in a Globalising World’. Identity in Question. Ed. Anthony Elliott and Paul du Gay. London: Sage, 2009. 1-12. Identity in Question 1 12 Google Scholar

Beck, Ulrich, and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim. ‘Losing the Traditional: Individualisation and "Precarious Freedoms"’. Identity in Question. Ed. Anthony Elliott and Paul du Gay. London: Sage, 2009. 13-36. Identity in Question 13 36 Google Scholar

Bellafante, Ginia. ‘Time Travel? Easy. Finding a Guy? Not’. The New York Times (26 Feb 2009). www.nytimes.com/2009/02/26/arts/television/26eric.html?_r=0. Accessed 20 Mar 2013. www.nytimes.com/2009/02/26/arts/television/26eric.html?_r=0 ‘Time Travel? Easy. Finding a Guy? Not’ The New York Times Google Scholar

Bignell, Jonathan. ‘Another Time, Another Space: Modernity, Subjectivity and The Time Machine’. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2004. 136-43. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader 136 43 Google Scholar

Biressi, Anita, and Heather Nunn. Reality TV: Realism and Revelation. London: Wallflower, 2005. Reality TV: Realism and Revelation Google Scholar

Branigan, Tania. ‘China censors want to consign time travel dramas to past’. The Guardian (14 Apr 2011). www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/14/china-time-travel-dramas. Accessed 20 Mar 2013. www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/14/china-time-travel-dramas ‘China censors want to consign time travel dramas to past’ The Guardian Google Scholar

Burling, William J. ‘Reading Time: The Ideology of Time Travel in Science Fiction’, KronoScope 6.1 (2006): 5-30. ‘Reading Time: The Ideology of Time Travel in Science Fiction’ KronoScope 6 5 30 Google Scholar

‘CBC's Being Erica to get U. S. remake’, CBC (17 Dec 2010). www.cbc.ca/news/arts/tv/story/2010/12/17/being-erica-sold.html Google Scholar

Creeber, Glen. Serial Television: Big Drama on the Small Screen. London: BFI, 2004. Serial Television: Big Drama on the Small Screen Google Scholar

Elliott, Anthony, and Charles Lemert. The New Individualism: The Emotional Costs of Globalization. London: Routledge, 2006. The New Individualism: The Emotional Costs of Globalization Google Scholar

Elliott, Anthony, and Charles Lemert. ‘The Global New Individualist Debate: Three Theories for Individualism and Beyond’. Identity in Question. Ed. Anthony Elliott and Paul du Gay. London: Sage, 2009. 37-64. Identity in Question 37 64 Google Scholar

Giddens, Anthony. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Cambridge: Polity, 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age Google Scholar

Gordon, Andrew. ‘Back to the Future: Oedipus as Time Traveller’. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2004. 116-25. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader 116 25 Google Scholar

Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford: Blackwell, 1989. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change Google Scholar

Hellekson, Karen. ‘Alternate History’. The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction. Ed. Mark Bould et al. London: Routledge, 2009. 453-57. The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction 453 57 Google Scholar

Hill, Annette. Restyling Factual TV: Audiences and News, Documentary and Reality Genres. London: Routledge, 2007. Restyling Factual TV: Audiences and News, Documentary and Reality Genres Google Scholar

Hills, Matt. ‘Time, Possible Worlds, and Counterfactuals’. The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction. Ed. Mark Bould et al. London: Routledge, 2009. 433-441. The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction 433 441 Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. Marxism and Form: Twentieth-century Dialectical Theories of Literature. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1971. Marxism and Form: Twentieth-century Dialectical Theories of Literature Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. London: Verso, 1991. Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism Google Scholar

MacDonald, Gayle. ‘A CBC Success: Erica without Borders’. The Globe and Mail (28 Oct 2011). www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television. Accessed 20 Mar 2013. www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television ‘A CBC Success: Erica without Borders’ The Globe and Mail Google Scholar

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media, 2nd edn. London: Routledge, 2001. Understanding Media Google Scholar

Martin-Jones, David. ‘Decompressing Modernity: South Korean Time Travel Narratives and the IMF Crises’. Cinema Journal 46.4 (2007): 45-67. ‘Decompressing Modernity: South Korean Time Travel Narratives and the IMF Crises’ Cinema Journal 46 45 67 Google Scholar

Matheson, Whitney. ‘A Q&A with… "Being Erica" star Erin Karpluk’. USA Today (5 May 2009). http://content.usatoday.com/communities/popcandy. Accessed 20 Mar 2013. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/popcandy ‘A Q&A with… "Being Erica" star Erin Karpluk’ USA Today Google Scholar

Mittell, Jason. ‘Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television’. The Velvet Light Trap 58.1 (2006): 29-40. ‘Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television’ The Velvet Light Trap 58 29 40 Google Scholar

Mudhar, Raju. ‘New shows a good sign for Canadian TV’. Toronto Star (5 Jan 2009). www.thestar.com/entertainment/television/2009/01/05. Accessed 20 Mar 2013. www.thestar.com/entertainment/television/2009/01/05 ‘New shows a good sign for Canadian TV’ Toronto Star Google Scholar

Noakes, Susan. ‘Time-travelling dramedy, Calgary land-battle soap to air on CBC-TV’. CBC (31 Dec 2008). www.cbc.ca/news/arts/tv/story/2008/12/31. Accessed 20 Mar 2013. www.cbc.ca/news/arts/tv/story/2008/12/31 ‘Time-travelling dramedy, Calgary land-battle soap to air on CBC-TV’ CBC Google Scholar

Palmer, Gareth. ‘Introduction: The Habit of Scrutiny’. The Big Reveal: Exposing Lifestyle Television. Ed. Gareth Palmer. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. 1-14. The Big Reveal: Exposing Lifestyle Television 1 14 Google Scholar

Penley, Constance. ‘Time Travel, Primal Scene and the Critical Dystopia’. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2004. 126-35. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader 126 35 Google Scholar

Rascaroli, Laura. ‘Time Travel and Film Spectatorship in 12 Monkeys and Strange Days’. The Science Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Gregg Rickman. New York: Limelight, 2004. 355-66. The Science Fiction Film Reader 355 66 Google Scholar

Redmond, Sean. ‘Preface to Part Four: The Origin of the Species: Time Travel and the Primal Scene’. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2004. 114-15. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader 114 15 Google Scholar

Sobchack, Vivian. Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film, 2nd edn. New York: Ungar, 1987. Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film Google Scholar

Yesilbas, Amanda. ‘The Hottest Trend in Recent Korean Television: Time Travel. For Love’. io9 (15 Jan 2013). http://io9.com/5975880. Accessed 20 Mar 2013. http://io9.com/5975880 ‘The Hottest Trend in Recent Korean Television: Time Travel. For Love’ io9 Google Scholar

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Yilmaz, Aybige