Monday, October 11, 2010

The Big C

I recently saw the pilot for a new Showtime series, The Big C, which premiered in August. Cathy Jamison is a middle aged school teacher with a new diagnosis of advanced melanoma. She could do chemo but she feels it would only be buying her little time and everyone would be taking care of her. She sets out to make the most of her last year, in her own way.

She kicks out her imature husband and sets out to be the more spontaneous, liberated one herself. She essentially begins to build herself her a to do list in this first episode. She begins to have a pool installed so she can swim with her son as she did when she was young and she begins to reign in her unruly teenage son. She starts to help an overweight teenager quit smoking and lose weight. She pours wine on her couch, something she sees as a symbol of how uptight she was in the past, and plans to burn it in the yard.

Several times during the pilot she tries to tell her family about her diagnosis. Each time she changes her mind at the last minute. At the very end of the episode she tells her neighbor's dog.

One of my favorite scenes in the show is when Cathy goes out to eat lunch with her young doctor. She wants to know how it feels for him to deliver bad news and he divulges that she is the first person he has ever had to tell such news. He nervously asks how he did.

"Very professional and matter of fact but detailed. You dumbed it down enough to be clear but not insulting. And underneath it all you seemed sad and I appreciated that. But after you left the room I heard you joking with the nurse about putting the doughnuts too close to the urine samples and is that what your supposed to wash it down with... it made me doubt your sincerity."

End of life issues aside, I found the pilot to be entertaining. I have always liked Laura Linney (who plays Cathy) and I think she does an excellent job of balancing funny and serious, more on the funny side. I'm looking forward to watching more of this series.

There is an excellent article on the series in Obit Magazine written from the point of view of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Trailer below.

2 Responses to “The Big C”

Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC said...
October 12, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Thank you for bringing more attention to this series. I've been watching The Big C regularly since the first episode, and I think it's one of the best television shows this season has to offer. As the characters develop, I've come to understand better Cathy Jamison's reluctance to disclose to members of her family that she has a terminal illness. (Witness her brother's reaction in the most recent episode.) The writing, directing and acting in this program are just outstanding.


Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC said...
March 16, 2011 at 11:53 PM

Thank you for bringing more attention to this series. I've been watching The Big C regularly since the first episode, and I think it's one of the best television shows this season has to offer. As the characters develop, I've come to understand better Cathy Jamison's reluctance to disclose to members of her family that she has a terminal illness. (Witness her brother's reaction in the most recent episode.) The writing, directing and acting in this program are just outstanding.