Essex County TV series is all about ‘hope and connection and healing’

Essex County TV series is all about ‘hope and connection and healing’

A TV series called Essex County, set in the region of the same name, is set to air on CBC and CBC Gem on Sunday, March 19.

The five-part limited series is based on a graphic novel by Jeff Lemire — who also wrote the show — and it focuses on four separate characters linked together through bloodlines.

Executive producer Eilis Kirwan said the series is about “hope and connection and healing” and it centres a boy, an old man, a middle-aged woman and a farmer.

“They’re all at a crossroads in their lives, coming out of a life of isolation, to connect, heal and uncover family secrets that are sort of going to change how they live moving forward.”

A white 11-year-old boy with curly, short brunette hair looks to his right, smiling slightly. He wears a long-sleeved striped grey and navy shirt and a red cape tied around his neck. The street and lines of trees behind him are out of focus.
Finlay Wojtak-Hissong stars in Essex County, premiering on CBC TV and CBC Gem on March 19, 2023. (Elly Dassas)

A kid who ‘never has confidence’

The stars of the series include Molly Parker, Brian J. Smith, Stephen McHattie, Daniel Maslany, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, and more.

Wojtak-Hissong, who plays 11-year-old Lester, said his character is a “complicated kid.”

As a closed-off child, Wojtak-Hissong’s character was close with only his mom.

“When she passed away I think everything came crashing down for [Lester].”

He spoke about the empathy he felt for the character.

“You feel bad for Lester, you want to help him even though you can’t help him.”

In the trailer, Lester is seen wearing a mask and a cape, which according to Wojtak-Hissong, was made by his mom.

“[Wearing it] is a way for him to find confidence because Lester is the type of kid who never has confidence.”

Something unique for Canadian television

The series was shot in North Bay, Ont. Part of the director Andrew Cividino and the location manager’s job was finding places in North Bay that resembled the writer’s vision of Essex County.

“In every case,the locations and the landscape [are] almost like a character in the show,” said Kirwan. 

“Because it’s shot so beautifully that really has that kind of wide angle, sort of epic feel.”

Actor Kevin Durand in TV series Essex County.
Kevin Durand as Jimmy in Essex County. (Elly Dassas/Essex County)

She said she hopes the show will feel authentic for the people of the area.

“There’s a bit of nostalgia about the way of life, I guess, in Essex County when [a character in the series] was younger, and stuff like that, that may speak to people as well.”

She said the show is about “change, transformation and moving forward” and is “unlike anything that’s been on Canadian TV before.”

“You tune into this show if you want to see a story about real people at extraordinary moments in their lives, struggling to find hope. It’s full of imagination.”