'Son of a Critch': Mark Critch on Benjamin Evan Ainsworth recreating his embarrassing moments

The CBC series is back for Season 3 with more laughs for the coming-of-age show, set in Newfoundland

It's a new season and a new school year for Mark Critch in CBC's Son of a Critch Season 3.

Where to watch Son of a Critch Season 3: Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBC TV
Where to stream Son of a Critch: CBC Gem
Cast: Mark Critch, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Claire Rankin, Colton Gobbo, Malcolm McDowell
Creators: Mark Critch and Tim McAuliffe

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Based on the memoir of the This Hour Has 22 Minutes host, in this season Mark (played by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) is in his final year of elementary school, on the top of food chain before he moves to a new high school.

"These were all formative years at the school I went to, and this is going into grade nine," Critch told Yahoo Canada. "Mark, at the start of this series, he's afraid to go there and now he's quite settled, so it's kind of sweet to wrap it all up at the end with him graduating."

"I was excited to do that, to say goodbye to that school, move on to high school. I think there's a lot of growth and change, and coming into your own in this season, which has been a lot of fun."

Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Mark Critch in Season 3 of CBC's Son of a Critch
Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Mark Critch in Season 3 of CBC's Son of a Critch

Underage bar performance, a play about the dangers of sex and a giant crucifix

While the show keeps getting funnier each season, Critch revealed that there are a lot of outrageous and hysterical moments that are pulled right from his real life for Season 3 of Son of a Critch.

"One moment I keep thinking of is we see Mark performing in a bar for the first time, when he's very underage, which is something that happened," Critch said. "When I did that act, I did an impression of my dad, who everybody knew then, in my dad's red VOCM jacket, and I got busted."

"So we recreate that scene and Ben's doing the same act I did on stage back then."

There's also a moment in the first episode where Mark's teacher comes into the room with a giant crucifix as a visual representation of the Lord's suffering, and that really happened, and then that same teacher did put a blindfold on and everybody snuck out of the classroom.

Additionally, there's another real moment from Critch's youth when he had to do a play for a drama festival that was about the "dangers of sex," and that play is also recreated on the show.

"Now you know what it's like to go through these embarrassing moments," Critch said to Benjamin Evan Ainsworth.

As Ainsworth described, Mark starts the season with more "confidence," but that starts to deteriorate quite quickly.

"He's left last season, 'OK I'm comfortable with all my school friends, I'm comfortable at home,' and I think to then, in the first episode, gets hit with, 'OK I need glasses. OK I'm getting bullied by Baby Fox.' Everything just starts to go down," Ainsworth said.

"But then ... he goes out into the real world and explores stand up comedy, or does theatre. ... I think, overall for him growing as a character, he's becoming a little bit more extroverted, and a little bit more happy to explore."

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - 2023/04/21: Colton Gobbo attends the

Big developments for Colton Gobbo as Mike Critch Jr.

The return of Son of a Critch also marks significant development for Colton Gobbo, who plays Mark's brother Mike Critch Jr.

"Looking back on the first season, being just tough, older brother, but loving and dropping little bits of knowledge, now it's nice to see how comfortable Mike has become in himself," Gobbo said. "This season, especially, he's starting to take on things that are foreign to him, that are a bit out of his reach, as far as family goes, as far as having a new girlfriend."

"I have had the chance to sit down with Mike and there are some conflicting sides to the stories. Either I believe my dad's or the real me, who knows, that's kind of a grey area. But all of it is exciting and authentic, and full of heart."

Specifically at the beginning of the season, we see Mike Jr. butt heads with his mom Mary, played by Claire Rankin, wanting more independence while still living in his parents home.

"It was really exciting to explore the whole clash and a bit of head-to-head, because Mary's an immovable object," Gobbo said. "She's the root of the house and so it's Mike's fault for trying to fight the beast."

"I feel like that's kind of a huge thing that everyone goes through, coming to terms with your parents, opening up to those kinds of conversations and being like, 'Hey, I'm not a little boy anymore.' ... There's some really, really sweet moments throughout of, I think both of us finding some middle ground, and some common ground, of OK things are going change, but some stuff's going to stay the same."

"It's a great storyline for the two of us this year, it's the most we've had to do together in that kind of way," Rankin added. "Later on in the season, there's also a chance for me to support him as well, in some things that he's going through."

"As hard as it is for her to let him go, I think by the end of the season she does see the man he's becoming."

Pop (Malcolm McDowell) and Mike Sr. (Mark Critch) in Season 3 of CBC's Son of a Critch
Pop (Malcolm McDowell) and Mike Sr. (Mark Critch) in Season 3 of CBC's Son of a Critch

'I don't picture my actual family anymore, I'll picture the cast'

Having crafted three seasons of the show, so far, Critch identified a shift between writing the series, and then actually seeing the script on its feet, with the actors.

"When you're writing it, it's all in your head and it's all still memory and imagination," Critch explained. "It's kind of weird, because I've gone from a point of, when I'm writing something, I don't picture my actual family anymore, I'll picture the cast in there."

"But there are lots of moments where it's actually just something that happen to me, and those are weird. ... But it's been really cool to kind of stand outside yourself. I guess the only other way to get this feeling is if you woke up on the operating table or something, or went into a coma and you're floating over the operating table looking down at yourself, but I get that every day, without having to almost die. So I'm very grateful."

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'I just hope that I am, in some way, doing her justice'

For the Rankin, portraying Critch's mother, she described the process as getting "guideposts" for the characters. While Mary, and all the Critch family on the show, are based on real people, there was still room for the actors to bring themselves to the role.

"The skeleton of it is there, but we've been given so much freedom to actually flesh out these people and these characters," Rankin said.

"I sadly never got to meet Mark's mom and so I only know her through the book, and through stories that Mark has told me. And I have to rely on the fact that there must have been an essence of something in me that was in some way indicative of her, and then I just hope that I am, in some way, doing her justice."

She added that the biggest compliments she received are from people who knew Mary and said that certain scenes in the show come across in the exact way Mary would have behaved, or sounded.

For Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, the actor recognized the interesting experience of growing up, personally, in a similar way the character of Mark is growing up as well.

"I'm growing up whilst Mark is, alongside the character," Ainsworth said. "It's easy to kind go away for the eight months that I'm not in Newfoundland, and then from what I've picked up, or how I've adapted, it kind of comes through with the character."

"But also I think, a testament to the writing, that Mark's arc has evolved so nicely. He's been uncomfortable. He's broken out of his shell, then realized when he's filled that space that, oh there's another shell. ... It's the real world. Then I've got to try and find my way through. I think, me personally, getting through school, but then on sets as well, it's similar kind of ideas that I'm growing up and trying to find my way, ... as well as Mark is."