Appealing Ahmad lifts ‘Who Is Erin Carter?’ beyond foolishness

The seven-part “Who Is Erin Carter?” premiered late last month on Netflix. It’s a feverishly paced action drama that at times veers into foolishness — but then most feverishly paced action dramas do that when they commit to breathless movement and a steady flow of body and vehicular collisions. Otherwise, the show is a perfectly OK way to spend TV time, largely thanks to the appeal of its heroine, a British expat haunted by a past that emerges slowly, and the appeal of the actress who plays her, Evin Ahmad.

Erin is a substitute teacher and the mother of a preteen girl, Harper (Indica Watson). They live near Barcelona with Erin’s husband, a kind ER nurse named Jordi (Sean Teale). One day she and Harper are in a grocery store when it is being held up by masked gunmen, and Erin takes down the bad guys with the kind of efficiency and agility not generally found among suburban moms. Her actions make headlines, which put her face in front of the public. Soon, Erin’s past begins to close in, and people show up to hurt her. Meanwhile, Erin and Jordi’s neighbor and friend is a cop who’s in too deep with some baddies, another slope that Erin slips down while trying to evade her foes.

At certain moments, Erin’s double life — in one breath a school play, in the next a violent fight in a classroom, in the next an interview at school for a full-time job, etc. — feels a bit absurd, almost unintentionally comical. The show is grounded in the real world — this isn’t a superhero story — and yet her husband, never mind the police, don’t seem to catch on to her.

Yes, we expect implausibility on this kind of show, but within reason. Fortunately, Ahmad is endlessly fun to watch no matter what silliness the script might have in store for her, and the emotions among the main characters — particularly between Erin and her daughter — are persuasive.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.

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