Television

Why you should get hyped for Fortunate Son

Reasons to watch the new CBC show Fortunate Son which premieres in the new year.

Reasons to watch the new CBC show Fortunate Son which premieres in the new year.

Ruby Howard (Kari Matchett) is arrested for her involvement in the Peace March protesting the Vietnam War. Their peaceful activities took a turn for the worse.

There are many reasons you should watch Fortunate Son — which is set to premiere on CBC and our free streaming service CBC Gem: Wednesday, January 8 at 9PM (9:30NT).

From the anti-war movement in Canada and the American efforts to infiltrate it, to the intriguing but flawed and complex characters, the story of a family divided by a mother's deeply held commitment to activism and the personal cost it exacts on those she loves to an American war deserter with a troubling past whom she smuggled across the border to Canada, Fortunate Son is filled with drama and tension that will keep you glued to the screen, screaming for more after every episode. 

8 more reasons to get hyped about it

1. Fortunate Son is based on a true story and explores Canadian history that hasn't been reflected in Canadian television thus far. A spy drama set in the social and political chaos of the late 1960s or the Nixon / Vietnam War era — but also the era of the first Prime Minister Trudeau and Trudeaumania. You know, the father!

A fiery Peace March against the Vietnam War including Ruby Howard (Kari Matchett) and Sandro (Victor Trelles).

It's also loosely based on the family history of Tom Cox, the show's executive producer whose mother was an early inspiration for the lead character of Ruby Howard. A CIA operative was planted within Cox's family to spy on his parents.

"Tom's mother, Mary Cox, was just a force of nature. Very politically active, very socially active. She helped draft dodgers come across the border, and that's what Ruby [the lead character] does," says Kari Matchett who plays her.

Ruby Howard (Kari Matchett) and draft dodger Travis Hunter (Darren Mann), whom she picked up in the U.S., crossing the Canadian border.

While Tom Cox used details from his past as a seed to develop the story arc, most of the characters are fictional.

2. Sure, the espionage aspect is thrilling but the series also explores political corruption, racial tension, war, activism, riots, family, loyalty, love and so much more — in a very realistic way with undertones of both irony and empathy, portrayed by very well-developed characters.

CIA agent Vern Lang (Stephen Moyer), right, gives Travis Hunter (Darren Mann), left, heroin and the Bronze Star.

3. With today's unrest in the political and social landscape, Fortunate Son resonates across generations as it touches on themes Canadians were facing then, which are still relevant today: government surveillance, fake news, rebellious youth, unhappy populations, various groups seeking equality and recognition. 

The world seemed on the brink of cataclysm in 1968. Divisions between races, generations and sexes seemed irreparable.​-  Andrew Wreggitt, Creator of Fortunate Son

4. And for those who lived through the '60s, there's a sense of nostalgia. "It's this weird mix of 'Oh man, this is so awesome' and 'Oh, I remember that, I used to have a sweater just like that,'" writer and showrunner Andrew Wreggitt said with a laugh to the Calgary Herald.

5. The series also reminds us to remain hopeful for change and a better future. "There was also a sense of optimism, a belief that change was possible and everyone had a role to play," adds Wreggitt.

The world is still plagued by many of the same issues of 1968, but we see that same growing activism and drive for change today.

6. It boasts a talented cast, including Kari Matchett of Covert Affairs and 2 Hearts who plays Ruby Howard, Darren Mann of Giant Little Ones and the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina who plays Vietnam war veteran, Travis Hunter, and Stephen Moyer of True Blood and The Gifted in the role of Vern Lang. No, you won't hear him say "Sookie" in this one but he is as cold-blooded in Fortunate Son as he was in True Blood

From left to rigth: Darren Mann, Kari Matchett and Stephen Moyer.

"I was absolutely obsessed with playing Ruby from the moment I read the part," says Kari Matchett

"I loved it. It was perfect. I love doing movies and this was an eight-episode long movie. Really, really well-written," adds Darren Mann.

Other cast members include Kacey Rohl (Arrow, Hannibal), Rick Roberts (This Life, Designated Survivor), Patrick Gallagher (Night at the Museum, Glee), Ty Olsson (War for the Planet of the Apes, Supernatural), Alex Nachi (1991, Clash) and Zoé de Grand'Maison (Riverdale, Orphan Black).

"This role is a dream come true because it's really fun to be transported to another era. I love feeling like I am in the 1960s and kind of feel like I am a hippie at heart, so it's fun to get to explore that side of myself," says Zoé de Grand'Maison.

Zoé de Grand’Maison is in the role of Destiny. (Louise Moquin/Radio-Canada)

7. The directors of Fortunate Son are also big in the industry — Stefan Schwartz directed The Americans and Dexter, and Ken Girotti did Vikings and Orphan Black.

8. Did we mention the '60s vibe? The set design, tunes, fashion, hair, cars, lingo and general grooviness are all key parts of the show. It presents context to help build the story of the Howard family, who in the middle of an era famed for hippies, peace, love and war, struggle to escape their past and deal with the increasingly tumultuous world around them.

Ruby Howard (Kari Matchett), left, and Ted Howard (Rick Roberts), right, attend the Browning Research Centre.
Vietnam in 1967: Travis Hunter (Darren Mann) in shock and grief as his friend Stubby gets shot and dies before his eyes.

Watch Fortunate Son on CBC or CBC Gem Wednesdays at 9PM (9:30NT), starting January 8.

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