Fakes brings Hollywood North home

Vancouver plays itself in CBC Gem’s latest comedy series

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Two girls smile at the camera behind a backdrop collage of IDs and the title “Fakes”
PHOTO: CBC Gem

By: Clarence Ndabahwerize, Staff Writer

Content warning: Mentions of gun violence

As a city with a leading film production industry, Vancouver often stands-in for famous real and fictional locales south of the border, from San Francisco in Planet of the Apes to New York in The Interview. Rarely, if ever, do we see Vancouver represented as itself on the screen. For this reason, Vancouver has long been known as Hollywood North. Then came Fakes, a comedy series that came out September 1. Available on CBC Gem and Netflix, both local and foreign audiences could finally see Vancouver play itself on the screen.

Fakes opens with a police raid on a lively apartment. If you’re keen enough, you’ll spot Canada Place in the background. During the melee, one of the protagonists, Rebecca, (Jennifer Tong), makes a short-lived escape. When we later meet Zoe (Emilija Baranac), the other protagonist, we find out that the two are from the affluent municipality of West Van. The show is centred around the duo’s venture into the world of white collar crime as they start a fake ID printing business. 

Rebecca and Zoe quickly make a name for themselves. They go from printing fake Alaskan drivers’ licences at a self-serve printer in a tech shop, to a fully-fledged operation printing a sizable amount of BC drivers’ licences. They also have an awareness of their clients’ needs. The point is to fool a bouncer with a flashlight, but not law enforcement, ICBC, or a respective DMV. 

As can be expected, this all starts with a misunderstanding, when the duo inadvertently advertise their expertise to series antagonist Tryst (Richard Harmon). When he puts word out that leaves them in a bind, trouble follows. Their benefactor, initially dealt with by Tryst and the owner of the swanky pad where they print the IDs, shoots someone right in front of his face during that encounter. 

How two high school students get tangled up in such a situation is not so surprising once we look at their backgrounds. Both have cases of fractured families and absentee parents. The show, being set in one of Vancouver’s wealthiest neighborhoods, reminds us that even those behind the velvet rope can be prone to the same mishaps and experiences as those on the other side of it.

What’s most notable about Fakes is that it’s as Vancouverite as can be. The protagonists are local actors, and familiar sights as well as cultural cues make viewers in Canada feel at home. More importantly, this allows us to explore issues within our communities. The opportunity to do this through pop culture gets lost when our cities stand in for and prop up metropolises and locales south of the border. This inspires the questions: Can this be replicated or built upon? Will Surrey or Coquitlam finally be able to uniquely play themselves? Whether there are answers to these questions remains to be seen, but Hollywood North seems to have turned a new page.