What would you do if you were given a life altering diagnosis? Showtime’s The Big C followed one such person forced to examine their life after such an event.
The Big C followed Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney) a reserved housewife/high school teacher who always lived a mundane existence until she was diagnosed with terminal skin cancer. She responded to the news by kicking her immature husband Paul (Oliver Platt) out of the house and requested a separation. Cathy also started to lay some ground rules for smart mouth son Adam (Gabriel Basso) who loved to torment and ridicule his mother. Tired of being quiet, Cathy attempted to be more assertive like her outspoken/homeless-by-choice brother Sean (John Benjamin Hickey). She tried to repair her relationship with her brother by trying to resurrect her childhood, such as installing a pool in her small backyard. She applied her newfound philosophy to her student Andrea (Gabourey Sidibe) who used sarcasm as a defense mechanism and her cranky neighbor Marlene (Phyllis Somerville). Surprisingly, Cathy’s only ally was her oncologist Dr. Todd (Reid Scott) with an interest in Cathy that went beyond the doctor/patient relationship. Will Cathy be able to tell anyone else her secret besides Marlene’s dog?
Honestly, Cathy’s choice to keep her cancer diagnosis a secret was understandable because she didn’t have any one to truly lean on. Her family was too focused on their personal needs to focus on hers. The main draws were Linney and Platt for bringing some bitter humor to a crumbling marriage. Linney’s best scenes involved Cathy showing her backbone to her perennially mean neighbor and her spiteful son. Those moments allowed Cathy to regain some control in her life and finally realize she had something worth living for. Platt managed to make a usually pathetic character sympathetic like when Paul begged her Cathy’s forgiveness not knowing about her cancer diagnosis. Based on the series premiere, The Big C had to work out some major kinks before it could enjoy the same longevity as Weeds. Some of the show’s flaws mostly involved the supporting cast by making Hickey’s brother almost too unlikable and wishing Cathy would write him off. It’s too early to tell whether The Big C has enough longevity to last past this season, but Linney’s comedic talent made it worth putting in the time.
The Big C premiered on August 16th and airs Mondays at 10:30 p.m. on Showtime.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)