THE BIG C “Losing Patients” Review

THE BIG C "Losing Patients" Season 2 Episode 1 (6)

THE BIG C “Losing Patients” Season 2 Episode 1 – The Big C ended last year on such a high note that the frustration I felt with the vast majority of the rest of the series was almost instantly forgotten. It’s funny when a show can do that: all of Cathy’s reluctance to tell her family anything about her illness led to one frustrating dead end after another. The show seemed to be stuck in a rut until the last episode, when Cathy finally told her husband and son. The scene where her son found the room filled with gifts she’d bought him in the event of her death which would cover him up until his 18th birthday magnified just how marvellous the show could potentially be.

I have only seen the first episode but, at least in this episode, showrunner, creator and writer Darlene Hunt seems to have truly found a balance between the dark, absurdist humor of the situation of a woman struggling with cancer and the terrible emotional impact it has on her family and herself. I don’t think any of that was more evident than in the minor subplot involving Marlene’s dog Tomas, a beautiful creature who swallowed two of Cathy’s pills. Throughout the episode Cathy and Paul find Tomas lying dead, only to realize he’s just a lethargic hunk of meat. The fear and sadness and love and nervous humor wedged into such a minor arc is a microcosm of what the show is about.

Oh yes, Marlene. Having offed herself last year, Marlene returns to haunt Cathy, and Hunt proves that she knows how to write weird and eccentric scenes like the foot in the sink blender without going over the top. I loved the Marlene scenes, and that creepy smile that came over her face as Cathy found out that her dog (and what once used to be Marlene’s dog) was not dead sent shivers down my back.

My favourite scene of the episode had to go to the sequence where Cathy buys weed from a dealer. The whole sequence was just hilarious suburbia stuff; Cathy’s excitement of having done something so daring as buying weed marvellously portrayed by both Oliver Platt and Laura Linney. Speaking of which, these two actors have such fantastic chemistry together and work so much better as a couple in love than a couple at ends that it really exemplifies how Dr Mauer’s romance with Cathy is totally forgettable and unrealistic. That being said, I did like the scene between Todd and Paul in the parking garage and loved that Hunt decided not to use the kiss as a way to stick a wedge between Paul and Cathy, but to really wipe the slate clean of secrets from last season.

Cathy’s brother, mentally ill as he may be, is still a jackass, as is his perfectly healthy babymama, played so brilliantly by Cynthia Nixon as a narcissist: upon finding out that Cathy has cancer, she is immediately concerned not with Cathy, as any reasonable human being might have expected, but with how that effects her, the impact the news has on her life.

The fact that this show is a comedy once again raises the eyebrow on genre definition in the television world, particularly on Showtime. Nevertheless The Big C is back and, corny as it sounds, better than ever. A first season can often be tough, but if this premiere is anything to go by, Hunt seems to have gotten a handle on her characters and her story and knows what works and what doesn’t. So far the second season seems to be in very capable hands that have learned from the mistakes of the first season, and left them by the wayside.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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