Big C, The – Season 2
The landscape has changed in The Big C during its second season, as we go from summer to fall/winter.
During Season 1, Cathy (Linney) was diagnosed with terminal (Stage IV) melanoma and spent most of the time hiding her disease from her family — except for Marlene (Somerville), who later commited suicide after pointing a gun at Adam (Basso) — while grieving on her own and accepting the fact that she will die. By the end of Season 1, everyone ended up being aware of her disease — including Adam, who now knows that his mom won’t live much longer.
Season 2 opens a new chapter for Cathy. She is now eager to survive and fight back against cancer. She tries to get an appointment with Dr. Sherman (Alan Alda), who has a new clinical cancer drug trial ready to roll. Obviously, Cathy gets approved to enter the clinical trial, which leads her to meet Lee (Hugh Dancy), a fellow patient who fights for his life alongside Cathy.
Season 1’s biggest problem was that almost all of the characters were unlikeable. In Season 2 almost all of the characters do a 180º spin. Paul (Platt) turns into the loving and caring husband that his wife needs. Sean (Hickey) changes his lifestyle after getting Rebecca (Nixon) pregnant, inviting her to live with him at Marlene’s former house as they await their baby. Andrea (Sidibe) moves in with Cathy’s family and provides her blunt opinions on everything along with support for Cathy, which includes designing a “brave bitch” t-shirt for her to wear. On the other hand, Adam — still an asshole at times — finds himself growing up as a teenager while struggling with the truth regarding his mother’s disease.
Laura Linney’s performance is deliciously sweet and sarcastic at the same time, making Cathy a delight to watch and easy to root for. Oliver Platt has been a lot more enojyable compared to Season 1. John Benjamin Hickey is still hilarious as Sean struggles with his mental unestability while caring for Rebecca. Hugh Dancy, whose character is gay and easily gets the best interactions with Cathy while allowing The Big C to be LGBT-friendly in the second half of Season 2, had a strong and natural performance playing the cancer patient while avoiding all the clichés that most gay characters suffer from.
The Big C isn’t free of flaws. The first half of Season 2 was a bit slow paced at first, but thankfully it got a lot better during the second half. Cathy playing the “I have cancer” card at times, Sean’s absence in two episodes and the writing at times for Rebecca, Adam and Andrea were some weak points. Parker Posey’s character — Adam’s online friend who appears 3/4 into the season — side-tracked the show a little bit despite helping Adam grow as a person.
Despite the show’s dark premise — and Season 2 is darker than Season 1 — The Big C has improved a lot. Season 2 ends up being a fun ride as we watch Cathy admirably battling her disease with the support of her family and friends. The show mixes the comedy, drama, and heartfelt moments successfully thanks to sharper screenwriting and strong performances from the entire cast — Linney, Dancy and Hickey being the show’s best assets and worthy of Emmy nominations for their performances .
Season 2 ends with a powerful cliffhanger and a clear idea of how long Cathy will survive. One thing’s for sure, I’m definitely looking forward to Season 3 — which is set to premiere on April 8, 2012.