What would you do if you learned you had a year, maybe 18 months to live? A liberating, philosophical question indeed, and one that was posed in a new Showtime series, “The Big C,” Starring Laura Linney, whose character has been told just that.
The story begins after: Linney’s “Cathy Jamison” has learned of her fatal diagnosis. “Cathy” a married high school teacher in Minnesota — has been informed she has Stage IV melanoma and has decided to forgo aggressive treatment that, at best, would buy her only a little more time. Instead, she sets out to make the most of what life she has left.
Cathy decides to go it alone and not tell anyone of her condition — including her husband played by Oliver Platt, who she kicked to the curb; and son played by Gabriel Basso, both of whom seriously do not understand her as a wife, mother or person. Her husband who seems to be stuck in a “Panesque” syndrome and her son who is in serious need of a reality check, as he apparently has never met discipline he couldn’t crack. We also get the slightly awkward exchanges between “Cathy” and her doctor (Reid Scott), the one person to whom she can confide as well as a pseudo love interest, whereby she later learns that she was his first [fatal diagnosis] and she offhandedly proclaims that “you always remember your first” something she hadn’t been in a very long time.
The supporting cast includes John Benjamin Hickey as her brother Sean, a very vocal protesters whose street-corner agitations rail against global warming and Americans waste. Also included is “Precious” star Gabourey Sidibe as an overweight student Cathy becomes determined to help offering her money to lose weight.
Phyllis Somerville rounds out the cast as Cathy’s irritable neighbor who is just awaiting death with an adorable basset hound by her side, which is, simply stated, the perfect breed to suit the show’s bittersweet tone.
Given the opportunity to explore what truly matters in life, the show is show well shot and well told, treating death like the next slightly zany frontier. In a world were people want prophetic revelations… I just want to be entertained, and this show does just that.
“The Big C” airs at 10:30 ET/PT check your local listing.