Real-world Jann Arden is handling the COVID-19 pandemic better than she thinks TV Jann Arden would.
“She would have been doing crowdfunding for herself,” the singer and actress said of her messy, self-involved alter-ego on the Calgary-set CTV sitcom Jann, which returns for its second season Monday.
“I think she would have been feeling very sorry for herself and making everybody around her realize just how terrible life was for her.”
For the actual Ms. Arden, the pandemic has been about rolling with the uncertainty and acknowledging her plans were not the only ones upended.
She was supposed to kick off a 19-date cross-Canada tour in May and said it was “gut-wrenching” to have to put it on hold.
“There was a lot of fear and a lot of disappointment, but you also realized very quickly how the whole planet was going through the same thing,” she told The Canadian Press from her home west of Calgary.
The first season of Jann ends with a different kind of uncertainty clouding the singer’s tour plans.
As she stands outside a “Burning Woman Tour” bus emblazoned with the face of her fictional nemesis Sarah McLachlan, viewers are left wondering whether she’ll board.
After all, her sister, Max, played by Zoie Palmer, is on bed rest at the end of a high-risk pregnancy and her mother, Nora, played by Deborah Grover, is showing early Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Jann – the character – is still something of a hot mess in Season 2.
Well-meaning grand gestures underscore a cringeworthy inability to read the room. The love she feels for her on-again, off-again girlfriend Cynthia, played by Sharon Taylor, is evident, but not always expressed in the most mature way.
“And I look terrible,” Ms. Arden said. “I look so unhinged for most of the second season that it really is hilarious.”
But she said the unpolished, ugly bits make it all the more satisfying when her character does pull it together.
“There’s always a payoff. People want to see you at your worst in order for the best to ring true.”
The second season’s first episode also shows Ms. McLachlan in a silly, less-than-glamorous light when the two get into a sloppy wrestling match.
In reality, Ms. Arden said she and Ms. McLachlan get along just fine.
She said Ms. McLachlan was a “good sport” during her guest appearance.
“Her part’s very physical and she was absolutely able to poke fun of herself.”
Other guest stars in Season 2 include k.d. lang as herself, Elisha Cuthbert as a mean school committee mom and Keshia Chante as an up-and-coming pop star.
Ms. Arden said Ms. Grover’s rendering of her TV mom will continue to be the show’s emotional ballast and bring out the most caring, loving qualities in other characters.
The singer’s real-life mother died in 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. She said she’s heard from “hundreds, if not thousands” of other people who have been through the same thing.
“I wanted to be in a position to teach people and to cheer them on.”
Jann has been renewed for a third season. Script-writing is under way and shooting is set to begin in January.
Ms. Arden said she has no worries about keeping everyone safe from COVID-19 in the controlled environment of a TV set.
Singing in front of thousands of fans is another matter. Ms. Arden said she hopes she can go on tour in April or May of 2021, but it’s no sure thing.
Her Hits and other Gems compilation that was supposed to drop at the same time as her tour this spring is instead being released next Friday. Ms. Arden’s new memoirs, If I Knew Then: Finding Wisdom in Failure and Power in Aging, are out Oct. 27.
As the pandemic drags into fall, Ms. Arden said she’s planning to read, write and spend time with friends.
“I think you just have to lean into it and be patient. Wear a mask, remain diligent and be kind to people,” she said.
“There’s a lot of whining and people feeling sorry for themselves. They need to get their heads up and out and onto their shoulders and look around them.”
Jann airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CTV.
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