I’m not really a YouTube junkie, so I was skeptical when I heard about a slick new caregiving series airing online. Yet “Ruth & Erica” has gotten my attention, and I plan to watch it in its entirety.
Why? Because it’s painfully real. The show – created by Amy Lippman for the woman-centered WIGS channel – chronicles the struggles of Erica (played by a convincing Maura Tierney) over one year as she tries to figure out how to manage the care of her aging parents, Ruth and Harry (played by the equally talented Lois Smith and Philip Baker Hall).
The episodes not only portray uncomfortable conversations between family members that are often a part of caregiving; they also reveal the complexity of Erica’s life, both personally and professionally, which intersect and complicate her ability to cope with difficult eldercare decisions.
The series contains 13 episodes, each running around 8 minutes long. They air on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, after which all 13 will live online indefinitely. Seven have aired so far, and I’m anxious to see the rest. They do seem to achieve the difficult balance of telling an intimate story to which many can relate.
A couple of cautions:
- If you are someone who doesn’t want to see difficult issues on film that you are dealing with in real life, this may not be for you. However, if you are someone who takes comfort in knowing that your struggles are shared in the larger universe, your ability to identify with Erica (or Ruth, if you are a spousal caregiver tussling with your adult child) may prove to be pretty therapeutic. Also, sharing this show with others is a great way to raise awareness about the unique challenges you are experiencing as a caregiver.
- Again, this is painfully real. There is less than flowery language (yep, they drop the F-bomb now and then) and issues such as adultery are unflinchingly discussed.
If you watch “Ruth & Erica,” please let me know what you think of this fascinating show.