Canadians can look forward to some fresh pandemic entertainment with the launch of a new animated show aptly named, UPROOTED: THE PLANTEMIC on Friday, January 28 on CBC Gem. This endearing five-episode series is the brainchild of filmmaker and winner of the Air Canada Short Film or Video Award at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, Betty Xie, that follows the daily challenges and triumphs of five houseplants confined with their human at home during the pandemic lockdown, as they adapt to a new way of living.
This original series boasts an all-star cast who lend their voices to bring each of the unique plant characters to life, including Andrea Bang of CBC comedy Kim’s Convenience (2016), Rosalina Lee of Netflix’s Seoul Searching (2015), Franco Nguyen of CBC sketch comedy TallBoyz (2019), and Eric Bauza – five-time Emmy nominated voice actor (The Ren and Stimpy Show, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Woody Woodpecker and Luke Skywalker, just to name a few).
Betty Xie, the writer and director of Uprooted: The Plantemic, found comfort in caring for her plants and watching them flourish throughout the pandemic. She observed that she wasn’t alone in this activity as more people started looking to plants as a way to fill the gap left by the lack of social activity.
“People are social animals and we innately crave social interaction. Plants can provide a profound sense of relationship, albeit an unconventional one,” says Xie.
Health care professionals agree. “Indoor houseplants trigger a serotonin response also known as the happy hormone. And the act of caring for a living entity and seeing it grow and flourish gives us a sense of purpose and motivation,” says Dr. Fred Lam, MD, PhD, FRCSC, Neurosurgeon/Neuroscientist at Northwell Health and MIT affiliate. And Dr. Lam practices what he preaches – his home is filled with numerous houseplants, all perfectly watered and manicured.
Not only did Xie find comfort in caring for her leafy green housemates, she also found the source of inspiration to create the series. “My plants are in my line of vision from my desk at home and often my mind would wander during the endless Zoom calls. It started with me naming them, then eventually evolved into creating personalities and background stories for each of them,” says Xie.
To kick off the show’s launch, the cast and crew are asking Canadians to show some love for their plant pals that have kept them company throughout the pandemic by posting selfies with their favourite houseplant on social media using the hashtag #PlantemicPal. Participants are encouraged to visit the official Instagram account @UprootedShow for more details and for a chance to win a gift card for…plants of course!
“We encourage everyone to get creative – whether it’s a selfie with your best begonia, a solo photo of a fickle ficus or even a sketch of a succulent,” says Tony Lau, one of the show’s producers. “Our hope is that ultimately, the #PlantemicPal initiative will create a sense of community and comfort by bringing together plant aficionados during a challenging time.”
Uprooted: The Plantemic can be viewed on CBC Gem on January 28, 2022.