A 75-year-old in terrible teens: Why Hey Lady! is binge-worthy
”Why can’t you just be a normal old lady?”
The new CBC digital original comedy series Hey Lady! is about a mean-spirited, insult-spewing, uncensored senior, Lady (Jayne Eastwood), who's got no intention of aging gracefully and refuses to be pushed aside in today's society. Or, as she puts it herself at the end of the first episode: "It's [the series] about a nasty old lady who does shit, called Hey Lady!."
#1: Disrupts ageist stereotypes with hilarious multigen storylines and jokes
Lady just wants to have fun, and unapologetically wreaks havoc as she meets life's ups and downs during her outrageous escapades. You could say, she's a 75-year-old going on terrible 17.
"Why can't you just be a normal old lady?" her mildly annoyed daughter-in-law asks in episode one, after she finds out about Lady's attempt to put bright pink lipstick on someone else's baby in the park — with a stolen lipstick.
In another episode, Lady shamelessly hits on a plumber (Steve Byers) she hires to switch hot and cold taps in her son and daughter-in-law's house, for no reason other than to create chaos. Lying to the plumber, she says: "It's due to dyslexia."
Not even a golf clubhouse or a Starbucks are safe, where she throws food at people or orders 40 lattes… and only lets the waiter know that she wants those with soy milk, after they've all been made. And who gives their children dog names like Lassie and Rover? Lady does.
With the assistance of her chain-smoking friend Rosie (Jackie Richardson), raspy-voiced Lady with a thirst for adventure (and bourbon) goes on an off-the-charts rampage of urban vengeance, upturning everything in her path — social norms, rules of etiquette, common decency and even the series itself. No one is safe with these two senior citizens of destruction.
#2: Breaks the fourth wall
The meta-level twist to the series is that Lady addresses the viewer in the opening seconds of the pilot: "Don't just sit there, cut to a scene in the park," she says as she looks into the mirror/camera, breaking the invisible barrier between the audience and the performer called the fourth wall.
Lady is a maverick who can cut from scene to scene whenever she feels like and becomes the viewer's guide while everyone else in the show is unaware except her bestie Rose, after Lady tells her. And then they get into trouble together.
Her therapist, on the other hand, knows about the show but thinks it's a figment of her imagination.
#3: Award-winning writer and directors
Morris Panych is the writer of Hey Lady! and one of Canada's most celebrated playwrights. Among countless accolades, he received two Governor General's Awards for Drama. On writing the show, Panych says: "For a playwright to tell a story in about seven minutes is like going on a very strict diet. I feel so much thinner now."
Hey Lady! director Sarah Polley received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for Away from Her and most recently executive produced CBC's Alias Grace which was adapted from Margaret Atwood's novel.
Another Hey Lady! director, Adriana Maggs, wrote and directed Grown Up Movie Star, a film that won a Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. She's also a writer with credits such as CBC's Frankie Drake Mysteries and Caught and has had a few acting roles including the CBC's Hatching, Matching, and Dispatching.
And last but not least is director Will Bowes who's an actor, filmmaker, and musician and has directed an award-winning short Split Focus. Will's numerous acting credits also include CBC's Alias Grace and Murdoch Mysteries, as well as Netflix's Spinning Out.
#4: A veteran Canadian lead and supporting cast
Jayne Eastwood, a film, voice, and television actress and comedian plays the titular Lady. Eastwood has been on screen since the '70s and has made a remarkable impact on Canadian cinema — from being one of the original members of The Second City comedy troupe and appearing on SCTV on a semi-regular basis to acting in CBC's courtroom comedy-drama This is Wonderland and appearing on CBC's Workin' Moms and Murdoch Mysteries. You might even know her from your childhood as the Evil Queen from Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show.
And like many Canadian greats, she's also made a name for herself across the border in the United States — appearing in hit movies such as Hairspray and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Alongside Eastwood, at the centre of Hey Lady! mayhem is Jackie Richardson as Lady's best friend, Rosie. Richardson is an award-winning singer and actress best known for her role in The Gospel According to the Blues and Sins of Her Father.
But the supporting cast themselves boast impressive resumes: actor-director Don McKellar (Dr. Wolfe), who appeared in many films and shows including Meditation Park and CBC's Republic of Doyle; Grace Lynn Kung (Lady's daughter in law, Molly) of CBC's Frankie Drake Mysteries, Coroner and Heartland; Zachary Bennett (son, Rover) of The Umbrella Academy, CBC's Workin' Moms and Frankie Drake Mysteries; Scott Thompson (the judge) of Kids in the Hall and The Simpsons, Christine Horn, (daughter, Lassie) and so many more names. It's worth watching just to see these acting wizards do what they do best.
#5: Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival
Hey Lady! premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 28 and all the cinefiles know that a Sundance premiere means something, especially when the reviews are rave. Enough said!
"Hey, Lady! breaks the norms of comedies by delivering what TV nowadays mostly can't," wrote Ulkar Alakbarova of Let the Movie Move Us in her Sundance 2020 review. "If laughter makes us younger, then there is no better way of trying it than watching Hey, Lady!"
So do I think you should watch Hey Lady!? Hell yes!