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The Big C: New TV Series Combines Comedy With Cancer

By Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger
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Would you watch a show about a woman dying from terminal cancer? Showtime bets you will, as the cable network gets ready to launch “The Big C.” Producers say the show focuses on living, not dying and is about the choices we make with the time that we have.

Billed as a comedy-drama, the series stars Oscar nominee Laura Linney as Cathy Jamison, a reserved, stifled, Minneapolis schoolteacher who learns she has stage-four melanoma, which has a low survival rate. She decides to make drastic, long-overdue adjustments to the way she is living her life.

“You can feel it’s something special, that they’re breaking barriers down, doing something quite new and quite fresh. It’s going to be great,” actor Reid Scott, who plays Linney’s oncologist, told HollywoodNews.com. “It’s pretty edgy. It definitely pushes the envelope, but it’s not incendiary. People are going to be surprised by how much they’re going to laugh at this kind of material."

“They don’t make cancer funny,” he added. “They show how funny some people can behave when they’re going through such a tragedy, but at no point do they make light of it. Laura’s character has a sardonic sense of humor that she applies to everything she encounters. I would venture to say that 90 percent of the people who’ll watch have gone through it or had a loved one go through it. They’re going to recognize the humor. It’s very universal. There are great surprises I’m not going to give away.”

Linney says she was drawn to the script not because of the theme of disease but rather that of time--the choices people make and how they spend their time. “The fact that we all have a limited amount of time and that it’s a privilege to grow old, that’s something that a lot of people have forgotten in this fast-paced world where youth is overly celebrated," said Linney at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Showtime’s promotional material says “Cathy has always been conservative and structured – the perfect suburban wife and mother. Receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis becomes not only a challenge, but a catalyst for change. Cathy is tired of being “the sensible one” — now she wants to let her freak flag fly.

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EmpowHER Guest

Just watched the Pilot episode...fantastic writing and acting. The Laura Linney character finds release in her impending death...freedom, more like it. She finds the desire and ability to learn to behave in a way perhaps she's always longed to but never had the courage to. The Big C is another Showtime hit to be sure.

August 15, 2010 - 9:34am

Great article, Pat! And great intro to your group for Cancer Survivors.
The series sounds interesting...a real journey that could prove inspiring to many. If only we had the premium channels. :)

August 2, 2010 - 10:26am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.