Having now watched the first three episodes of The Big C, I know that I want to do two things: continue to watch the series, insist that my friends (and readers of Small Screen Scoop) give it a try, as well.

The Big C officially airs on Showtime on August 16, 2010 at 10:30, following Weeds (another series I do demand you still loyally watch!) However, if you like to bend the rules (and The Big C is about nothing if not essentially learning to bend rules) then you can watch the first episode on the Showtime Youtube channel.

But I can tell you’re hesitant to add another TV show onto your schedule. So first, just take a taste and watch The Big C trailer:

Got your attention now? Well, hopefully. And if so, congratulations – you have good taste!

The series used its magnetic charms to get some high-caliber acting talent on board. Laura Linney plays Cathy, who is recently separated from her husband, recently diagnosed with Stage Four melanoma, and has most recently been seen pouring red wine all over her classic, neutral couch from Crate and Barrel. She’s handling things in an unusual way, perhaps. Repressed to the nth degree, we’re about to see what happens when you have a limited time frame to live. Making hard, unpopular choices? That’s just step one. And that’s why Paul is no longer living in the house.

Oliver Platt plays Cathy’s husband, Paul, who has been kicked out of the house for so many small reasons that he doesn’t think there’s any one valid reason. But if you’ve been leaving cupboard doors open wherever you go, it’s time to re-evaluate how much resentment you’re letting stew in whoever you live with. Paul suffers from Peter Pan syndrome, and does not want to grow up. He drives a Vespa and makes messes without ever thinking about who has to clean them up.

Laura Linney stars in The Big C - Photo: Robert Ascroft/SHOWTIME

Cathy and Paul have a son named Adam. He’s at that angsty teenager age where just looking at him wrong might make him scowl and slam a door on his way “out.” Adam is played by Gabriel Basso, and while he could come off as a boring “oh, a kid is in this equation” ready to be written out as soon as the plot allows for it, he actually has a spark.

Cathy is a teacher, and while we don’t see much of her teaching life in the first three episodes – we do see that she makes an unlikely bond with Andrea, who is played by Gabourey Sidibe.

Also very much in the mix is John Benjamin Hickey as Sean, Cathy’s homeless (by choice) brother that wants to save the environment. Across the street is Phyllis Somerville as Marlene, a neighbor that doesn’t get along with Cathy. Marlene also has a dog, named Thomas.

With all of these people, the only one who knows that Cathy has cancer is her Doctor, Dr. Todd – played by Reid Scott.

And I have to say that I always love what Jenny Bicks does, and am glad she’s an executive producer, showrunner and writer here. I’m not as familiar with the creator/executive producer, Darlene Hunt, but from reading an interview – I very much am looking forward to what she brings to Showtime.

The obvious blinking sign over this show is that it’s something you can relate to if you, or someone you know, has experienced (boy, that’s the wrong word) cancer. However, that wasn’t my first instinct in writing down who the targeted demographic would be. Who would enjoy this show?

For starters, women. I’m not saying it’s a women-only show, and there are certainly enough male characters who are more than just cardboard cut-outs than to be able say the show is only for women. (But women do tend to be more repressed than men.) Aside from women (age 30 and up, especially) and Moms, Type A people like Cathy will also really feel their frustrations voiced in this character. The point I’m  rapidly racing to to is that there are a lot of angles to approach this show from, and it doesn’t have to be “I relate to it because of the cancer thing.”

With defined, eccentric (read: interesting) characters and truly clever writing, this show is one you must let audition for you. Turn to the screen and give it a withering glare –  dare it to charm you. This dark comedy won’t disappoint. Watching The Big C is like getting 10cc’s of motivation and experiencing the urgent, savage wish to be more than you are at that precise moment. Not only will the show not disappoint, it will inspire you.

So, I’m off to go do something. What about you?

The Big C premiere date is August 16 only on Showtime.

You can watch the Big C online on Youtube (the first episode.)



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