By Diane Wild
Article first published as Dan For Mayor Returns From Exile on Blogcritics
It’s been over a month since new episodes of Dan For Mayor aired on CTV. Over a month since Dan broke up with Brianna, his ex-girlfriend Claire broke up with Mike, and the campaign â€“ with Dan and Claire on opposite sides – was heating up.
â€œIt bugged me in that Canadian shows take a backseat to American shows for sweeps,â€ said co-star Mary Ashton, who plays Claire, of the May shutout. â€œBut I’m glad CTV is coming back with a push to get people to watch it.â€
Ashton and I spoke the day after an ACTRA protest targeting Global for spending millions on American shows while finding room for only one hour of scripted Canadian drama â€“ the new Callum Keith Rennie series Shattered â€“ on their fall schedule. We also spoke the day before CTV announced it was renewing its entire Canadian scripted lineup, including Dan For Mayor.
â€œIt ended in a limbo, where both Dan and Claire are between relationships. She just liberated herself, so who knows what’s going to happen.â€
Of course, Ashton knows; the season had finished shooting even before the first episode aired. She’s filled her time waiting for a season two with theatre work, including an upcoming show at the Toronto Fringe Festival â€“ I caught her during a rehearsal lunch break at Kensington Market.
â€œI loved this episode,â€ she enthused about Monday’s Claire-centric half hour. â€œThe writers gave me a chance to have some fun. I think it was the most ridiculous for my character, in that she was totally vulnerable â€“ she was trying to figure out what was going on with Brianna and Dan â€“ so she was obviously jealous, but at the same time excited. She was trying to keep a poker face about it all, until she finds out they’ve broken up. I think maybe it’s just a fulfillment of her own ego that she wants to find out he broke up with her for her.â€
She also has to contend with Dan professionally as well as personally, after taking a job with Alan, another mayoral candidate. â€œI think it was a mistake that she worked for him because it was retaliation against Dan, and it kind of adds up in this episode.â€
Her character is largely defined by her relationship to Dan, but Ashton sees greater depth in the role than as simply the lead’s ex and possibly future girlfriend. â€œIt is a sitcom, but I think she was well developed in that she has a nice storyline where she’s trying to live up to her own expectations and not to everyone else’s.â€
â€œThere was never anything literally written down, but in my own preparation, I think she has issues with her parents. As you get to know them more, I think you see she tried to live up to their expectations.â€
The Dan For Mayor audience will finally get to know all the characters better as the last four episodes of the season air this month, starting Monday, June 7.