'The Big C': A Cancer Show with a Sense of Humor (Really)

The "C" of Showtime's The Big C stands for cancer -- stage 4 melanoma, to be exact. Laura Linney plays a Minneapolis schoolteacher named Cathy, who's just found out she has the disease. By the end of the first episode, Cathy, who's only 42, still hasn't found the right words or time or courage to tell her loved ones. So she processes the information by herself.

Believe it or not, The Big C (Mondays, 10:30 p.m. ET) is a comedy. With just eighteen months left to live, Cathy realizes that she's literally been given a mandate to "live like you're dying." After the morning bell rings at the high school, she does a series of cartwheels down the halls, passing classrooms packed with students. You could equate that image to her overall attitude towards life now.

Any idea that pops into her head, Cathy goes with. Install a swimming pool in her tiny front yard? Why not? Pay an obese student (played, by the way, by Precious' Gabourey Sidibe) one hundred dollars for each pound of extra weight she loses? Why not? Ask her sexy, young doctor what he thinks of her bare breasts? Why the hell not?

Even before she learned she had cancer, the men in Cathy's life were already comically annoying. Her 45-year-old husband, Paul (Oliver Platt) is so (almost unbelievably) immature, he refers to onions as "stinky poo poo." Her teen son Adam (Gabriel Basso) stages violent practical jokes, like pretending to be an intruder who tackles Cathy to the ground in her dark house. (Seriously? He thought that would be funny?) Her brother Sean (John Benjamin Hickey) is homeless by design, and in one scene, walks around with plastic Target bags around his neck, ostensibly to make a statement about recycling or something.

Cathy will have to tell these knuckleheads about her condition eventually. In the meantime, it's understandable that she hasn't done it yet. None of them seems capable of weathering such an emotional blow. But when she does, no doubt the show will incorporate lots more dark humor into the dialogue.

In the end, you'll find yourself laughing during this show about cancer. And that's exactly what its producers want you to do.

Do you think it's okay to make cancer funny? Chime in below!

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