Why I Hate the Big C

Quality Time usually focuses on the positive. Sure there are lots of crappy things out there and we could talk about them but why? I prefer to focus on that which I think makes life more entertaining and enjoyable. But every once in awhile something comes along and bugs me so much I can't keep my mouth shut.

The Big C is making me crazy. It's a series about a super skinny, super privileged white woman who is obsessed with her appearance and social status. She's bossy, bitter and controlling. She tries to change everyone around her including her husband, her son, her fat student (played by Gabourey Sidibe, her elderly neighbor, her homeless brother and even her elderly neighbor's dog. She also happens to have stage four cancer and is supposed to be on her last legs but never feels bad and has plenty of energy to meddle in everyone else's business.

But what annoys me most about this character is that she is refusing to tell her family that she is dying. She forces her son to stay home from soccer camp so they can spend time together, but doesn't tell him why, which automatically sets the whole thing up for failure. There isn't a creature on earth less communicative than an angry teen, and I speak as an ex-angry teen myself. She's also kicked her husband out of the house, saying that things have changed and she no longer has any use for his goofiness. Since she won't tell him what has changed or why she suddenly wants him to be more serious she's being quite cruel. But not nearly as cruel as she's being by not telling her family the truth about her illness.

The mother of one my son's friends passed away on the 11th of this month from cancer. Her family only found about her illness on the ninth, two days before her death. There is some confusion over whether she was never properly diagnosed or if she didn't tell her family she was sick. Either way, they didn’t have time to prepare and are reeling from the shock of her passing. It's bad enough for my son's friend to lose his mother when he's a teen; the speed in which it happened just makes everything worse.

So maybe I'm a little extra sensitive but whatever we as viewers are supposed to think about Cathy, the lead in the Big C, that she's brave or whatever, isn't happening; instead I think she's a selfish jerk. If she can't bear to tell her family she's sick then she should get one of the many people whose help she has rejected to tell them. Ugh. She gives me a migraine just thinking about her.

The rest of the cast is interesting and, with one exception, not the average doctor/lawyer/cop/criminal that make up most American television. (Think House, Breaking Bad, Good Guys, etc – all terrific shows but there are certainly an abundance of characters in these lines of work. It's not like the airwaves are saturated with dog catchers, ice cream truck drivers, perfume salespeople and diamond cutters.) Cathy's brother is homeless; as far as I can tell this is both practical and a political statement. He doesn't want to be part of the wasteful society he sees around him so subsists on what others throw away and refuses medical treatment until it’s available to all. This is of course immensely frustrating to Cathy, who isn't shown giving any thought to her brother's philosophy. Instead she wants to know if any of his friends in high school thought she was hot. Sigh.

I think she's meant to be showing some character growth but I don't know. Her brother says she's starting to get her weird back and maybe she is, but in a really mundane way. She liberates a lobster, which isn't exactly original and abandons it in a swimming pool where it will starve to death. She spends a ton of her retirement money on a fancy car that she can't drive then sticks it in a garage, planning for it to stay there for more than a decade. Is that weird or just financially unsound?

The cast has some talented actors including Oliver Platt as Cathy's estranged, rugby playing husband and Laura Linney in the title role. Everyone does a terrific job; it's just too bad they don't have better material to work with. I give the Big C a C minus.

But all is not lost. I still have something I can suggest this week. Terriers is a new show that debuted in the last couple of weeks and it's tons of fun. Featuring two down on their luck private detectives who do things like steal dogs from non-custodial owners, these guys get into all sorts of unexpected trouble. So far every episode has been a surprise and a delight.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Meredith, who says, "Easy A is to die for. It's about time we had a super smart heroine. Everyone should go." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.