Monday, August 16, 2010

A review of Showtime's The Big c

Hollywood never ceases to amaze me.  I worked there for 10 years in the television industry, working on everything from award shows to movies of the week to sitcoms to drama.  So I know when hollywood creates something like the series The Big c I have to suspend my disbelief (and oh, if you are not a frequent reader of my blog then I will tell you I don't capitalize the word cancer, gives it too much power, so even just the letter c in a title, sorry not going to do it.)

Laura Linney's character Cathy Jameson is told she has stage IV melanoma and only has a year or so to live.  She is in obvious shock and decides to forgo chemo (she doesn't want to lose her hair) and doesn't get a second opinion.  Right, you only have a year to live.  Ok thanks for the news doc, I will take your word for it.  Bye now...

I know many stage IV survivors who were given their "expiration date" by doctors who are still here, past that date,  fighting, alive and kicking. 

In the pilot episode Cathy doesn't tell her husband or her son about her cancer diagnosis.  Some may think this is selfish, but I get this part.  Cancer is scary, and in the midst of a diagnosis it is hard to process anything.  So yeah I understand.  It took me a while to tell people about my diagnosis.  Some people knew right away, others knew later.  For me it was hard to keep telling the story over and over and over again.

Linney's character decides that she needs to start living, she has been an uptight housewife for too long.  She wants to let her freak flag fly (I didn't make that up it was on the showtime site for the show)  I understand she wants to let loose, who wouldn't want to tell people exactly what they think of them, or build a pool in the front yard, ( I live in an apartment complex, so I think the manager would be upset if I started digging up the place)  but it doesn't give you the right to treat people like crap, like telling one of her students she has to be fat and jolly or be the skinny bitch. Sure, like that student wouldn't go straight to the schools administration and tell them what she said.

I felt that her character was very unlikeable at the beginning of the show, and really had few redeeming qualities.  Perhaps the writers felt that this was important so we see her go through her transformation into someone living life to the fullest.

The jury is still out for me on this show.  I try not to make a judgement on a show based upon one episode.  Given the subject matter and the cast, I will continue to watch this hollywood version of cancer, and suspend my disbelief

Mel is the producer~co-host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen live Monday~Friday 10am-noon eastern time on

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.  Available  on demand and also available on Itunes


  1. Thanks, Mel! So glad I didn't have to stay up to watch it. Sounds like the old, typical Hollywood misunderstandings of cancer again. Why didn't they just talk with us for a few days? We coulda given them the straight scoop.

    I appreciate your open-minded review; interested in hearing about future episodes.


  2. We don't have Showtime in our cable package, so I was hoping to watch it online, anticipating I would have to suspend disbelief. Also wasn't sure how I'd feel about "going there" again, even if it's with a fictional character. I love Laura Linney though. She gives thoughtful portrayals of her characters.


  3. Tough topic to show on TV since everyone's experience is different. Everyone responds differently to the diagnosis. I hope they do show her going through treatment since many of the alternative methods are not necessarily successful. The show has the potential to bring hope and inspiration to the millions with cancer, I hope they take this show in a responsible direction.

    Share the advice you hope they show at

  4. I think it's outrageous..I really hope it goes off the air..I survived Melanoma and there is nothing that is funny about it.....Some of my friends didn't.....I have a serious sense of humor and grew up in showbiz....Trust me..I find it sickening....

  5. I may cancel Showtime and continue to post this on my Facebook page..Enraged.....