Come on, we’ve all been there. We’ve all reached that point where someone has made us so angry that we wish we could blow them up with just our mind. Well, that’s exactly the power that Anna Gowen (Aleita Northey) finds herself with in the new CBC original horror comedy series This Blows, which drops all of its episodes online February 15. After getting hit by a car, the people-pleasing struggling actress finds herself unexpectedly empowered and able to blow up people every time she’s angry. What seems like a cool, neat new trick at first, may actually not end up being all that great.
Northey co-created the series with her brother Cole Northey, as well as veteran comedian Bruce McCulloch (Kids in the Hall, Young Drunk Punk). She recently spoke with The TV Junkies about the idea behind the series and working with McCulloch to bring it to life. She also gave us an idea of what to expect from the comedy’s first season and why a show with such a feminist bent saw horror as a great genre to explore this story.
The TV Junkies: Where did the idea for This Blows come from?
Aleita Northey: Originally, we did a smaller version of this concept almost for fun, on spec for a music video for a band called The Dirty Nil out of Hamilton. It was just me going around and getting tired of smiling at people in the neighborhood and getting hit by a car driven by my father in that incarnation. I was then down in L.A. hanging out with Bruce McCulloch, and he said ‘you may have something and we should develop it.’ So I developed a little story around our central character who could blow people up.
TTVJ: I was curious how Bruce came on board for this so it sounds like you knew him before this project then?
AN: My dad is a musician — he did the music on This Blows — and had worked on Kids in the Hall and Brain Candy, so I have known him since I was little.
TTVJ: Because it could be intimidating to work with someone from Kids in the Hall and who has had such a great career, but sounds like you had that luxury of knowing him outside of all that.
AN: I did, but it’s still intimidating for sure. [laughs] I know him personally, but have never worked with him before. He was a great mentor, but it was definitely still intimidating.
TTVJ: Do you and your brother work on a lot of projects together and what’s that like to work with him?
AN: He’s been doing music videos since he graduated from film school and I’ve been helping him out. I’m an actor so I don’t necessarily have the same skills as him behind the camera, and it’s nice to have an ally that I can say ‘Hey, I have an idea let’s go out and shoot it!’ That’s given me a boost in my creative output to have someone who I feel comfortable with and who shares my sense of humor. He’s been great at bringing me on to help him and any little fun thing we can do is always great. I love to be creating whenever I can be so having him around with the camera skills is a great boost.
TTVJ: Horror isn’t usually a genre that’s traditionally been very feministy. Why did you pick that genre and how do you challenge past tropes or horror stories with This Blows?
AN: Horror has always been something that’s been used to discuss fears. For us it was a fun, visceral way to empower Anna and illustrate that concept. Horror can be used in that way, though maybe it hasn’t been. We’ve got gore, but it’s comedic as well and more like Evil Dead horror and absurd, but we challenge the tropes for sure.
TTVJ: Anna gets struck by this car and then realizes she has this power, but what kind of journey does that take her on over the course of the season?
AN: We’ll definitely find Anna discovering what she can do, somewhat unwillingly and surprisingly. We’ll see her figuring out where this “power” comes from and she’ll find some unlikely allies along the way. There’s a lot of really cool women who are helping her feel comfortable with what she has and harness it. She’ll also learn more about the history of where this comes from.
We also go into the driver of the car a little bit, as well as Sunny, her roommate. We learn a little about her, and without spoiling, how she can help Anna as well. She starts to realize what a grim responsibility, or almost curse, it is that she now has.
TTVJ: I think we all wished at one point or another that we could blow things up with our mind when we’re angry. So it definitely seems like a cool trick at first.
AN: Yes, at first it seems really cool and she does explore that aspect of it. But it’s also a grim responsibility at times, trying to control it — if that is in fact what she’s like to do. It’s a great example of all those little microaggressions that happen to us where you don’t realize you’re angry until you have this great way of it being illustrated.
TTVJ: So do you leave the story open then for more seasons at the end of this batch of episodes?
AN: I would love to do more seasons and we have a lot to explore in this setup. I have tons of ideas of where Anna might take this and some of the other characters have great arcs we could develop. We definitely left it in a place where we can keep going even though a few issues do get resolved.
TTVJ: Is there anything else you wanted to add that we should know?
AN: All of the episodes are going to be out at once so you can definitely binge it. Unlike some other digital shows, these aren’t always self-contained stories, so it’s nice to be able to sit and go all the way through.
Are you intrigued and planning on checking out This Blows? Sound off below!
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.