Big C spreads TV cancer ‘fad’

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The Big C NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT: Laura Linney as teacher Cathy Jamison, who discovers she has terminal cancer, and the fellow cast in the hit TV series, The Big C.

WRITERS often look to reality for story ideas, hence the birth of the catchphrase art imitating life/life imitating art.

With storylines and characters resonating with viewers, it can only increase the ratings for the show.

Yes, morals go out the door when networks need cash cows.

Given the reality and awareness of cancer, it has inevitably permeated storylines in shows across the board. It has been mirrored in Parenthood (Kristina Braverman dealt with breast cancer), The L Word (Dana Fairbanks died after being diagnosed with inva-sive ductal carcinoma) and Weeds (Celia Hodes found out she had breast cancer in season one).

The compelling stories, anchored in heartache, anger, despair and a dra-matic yearning to live, planted a seed for Darlene Hunt, creator of the comedy-drama, The Big C.

With season two debuting on our screens, it is interesting to see how Hunt has taken the story forward – this time with Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney) deciding to fight instead of making peace with her condition.

Hunt told TVGuide.com, “It’s been a fun direction to go in since she was a little bit in denial in the first season. Now it’s like, ‘What are my options? What do I have to do?’

“Obviously, Cathy is the same person, but she’s being faced with things that she never thought she’d be faced with, so it’s fun to see her grow and change.

“While she has progressed from denial to anger, her combative nature will remain intact and inform how she handles the cancer around her loved ones,” she adds.

Interestingly enough, in this season, Cathy is introduced to Lee (Hugh Dancy), a fellow patient in a clinical trial. At first, she mistakes his friendliness for flirtation – only to learn he is gay. Their friendship, however, becomes strained when the drug works for her and not him.

By taking a gloomy subject and injecting it with a palatable dose of authenticity, drama and comedy, Hunt has created a hit show that appeals to the reality sensibilities of viewers.

And the “cancer plot” fad continues to spread in TV.

• The Big C is on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) on December 4 at 10.30pm.


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