The Big C returns to Showtime with new episodes beginning on Monday, April 29 at 10pm E/P. The cast, including Laura Linney, Oliver Platt, John Benjamin Hickey, and Gabourey Sidibe, as well as executive producers Jenny Bicks and Darlene Hunt, were on hand at last month’s TCA 2013 to talk about what fans can expect in the final season.
Here are a few things we learned.
The title ‘hereafter’ does not mean that Cathy is going to die and become a ghost. Asked to explain the show’s different title this season, Jenny Bick said, “The purpose for us of this title was really to speak about [on] that very Buddhist concept that we’ve explored on the show in the past, that as everybody’s lived, and we’re each dying every day, right? And as you die, you’ve lived. So there’s a yin yang to it. I mean, that’s really the truth of it, is it’s not necessarily about, “Oh, Cathy’s going to die at the end of the first episode and be a ghost.” That’s not what’s going to happen. ”
The final season will feature hour-long episodes. Asked to talk about changing the format of the show to hour-long episodes, rather than going back to 30-minute episodes, Bicks said, “I don’t think any of us feel like the show fundamentally changed its DNA. It allowed us to breathe a little more. We had found, in the half hour format, that we were sometimes having to rush moments just purely to make our half hour format time. And now we actually have had a chance to let both the comedy and the drama breathe a little bit more.”
Telling Cathy’s story was very personal for Laura Linney. Asked to talk about what made her decide to do the show originally, Linney said, “Darlene’s script came to me during a period of time where I was really in an existential swirl about time and how we use our time and the choices that we make about our time; what is worth our time, and about the privilege of aging. I was very much thinking about that on a daily basis, and then this script showed up, and I was like, ‘Oh, here’s a way for me to continue that conversation with myself within the context of cancer,’ which is also something that I’ve had a relationship with since I was a very small child because my mother was a nurse at Sloan Kettering when I was growing up. So I grew up, every day of my life, hearing about cancer patients and spending time at that hospital.”
Jenny Bicks loves death – okay, no, not really. Asked if her experience on The Big C has given her a desire to work on more shows about death, Bick joked. “I’m going to become a specialist. Yes, that’s my next show, ‘I Love Death.’” Getting series again, Bicks continued, “I feel very satisfied about what we’ve been able to say creatively. I think it’s an amazing privilege to be able to write about life and death, and to be able to put that on television. Because, you know, that is one of these de facto things that you’re not really supposed to talk about, because apparently we’re all going to live forever. I feel very satisfied that I got to be honest.”
The finale was especially hard for Gabourey Sidibe to film. Speaking about shooting the final scenes of the series, Darlene Hunt said, “I was not on set this day, but there was one particular scene that [Gabourey] shot in the finale that I heard about from many people was hard for her to get through. She just wears her emotions on her sleeve, and she was very emotional about it. And our director, Michael Engler, said, ‘Gabby, if you’re going to cry in this scene, cry at the end of it.’ And she’s like, ‘I’m trying. I can’t stop.’”
Hunt continued, “But it’s going to be hard for all of us, I think, to say goodbye to some of these relationships as we’ve known them. And she sort of embodied that in that moment, a feeling that I think we’ve all experienced at one time or another during this last season.”
The end of the story will be both smart and beautiful. Speaking more on the ending of the series, Gabourey Sidibe said, “To say how we dealt with the end of this story, of the entire series; it was done so smartly, and really, really beautiful. And it was more sort of like a graduation than anything. And not just for us as actors, but for what happens to the characters.”
The final scene of the series will be very nostalgic for viewers. Asked to hint about what fans can expect to see in the final scene of the final episode, Bicks said, “I will say that the final scene of the series will be very nostalgic for viewers of the show, because we reintroduce ideas that we’ve been playing with through the course, elements, visual elements that we’ve played with throughout the course of the series. So I think it’s a visually stunning moment, and a very happy moment, too.”
What do you think now that you’ve heard more about the final season of The Big C? How do you think it will end? Do you think Cathy will live?
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