Showtime’s ‘The Big C’: It’s About Living, Not Dying

by | July 29, 2010 at 12:55 PM | Fall TV Preview, Fall TV Preview 2010, TV News

Oscar nominee Laura Linney stars in the upcoming Showtime series ‘The Big C,’ about Cathy Jamison, a high school teacher/mom that learns she has Stage 4 melanoma cancer. And here’s the rub – it’s a comedy.

In fact, Linney doesn’t even consider the focus of the show to be on cancer. She told a panel at the Television Critics Association that the show’s theme is “the theme of time, what do you do with time, how do we spend our time. It’s a privilege to grow old, and that’s meaningful to me. That is more of what the whole story is about.”

Executive producer Jenny Bicks went on to say, “It’s not a cancer diagnosis show…It’s a show about living – not dying. It’s for everyone, because we’re all on borrowed time.” And as this is a premium cable show, don’t necessarily look for a happy ending. “We wanted to be truthful about the disease (Stage 4 melanoma). There’s a truth to how long you will live- but a huge amount of clinical trials are going on. It’s more the exploration of what she’s going to do when she’s alive. If it comes time for her to go, then she goes. We don’t have to sugarcoat the situation that she’s in – because we’re on Showtime.”

Oliver Platt plays Cathy’s husband Paul and had an interesting take on what the show is really all about. “Why do we have to start living beautifully only when we get a death sentence? We’re all dying anyways. The show is a very delicate mix – it has an enormous amount of respect for this disease. The only one that’s allowed to make a cancer joke is Laura. It has a healthy sense of irony and truth- very honest – when they get this sort of proclamation on their life.”

Watch the Series Premiere online now:

If the show is to go on beyond a first season, the producers have come up with an unique way to advance the story. Bicks said, “Every season of the show would be an actual season – so the pilot episode is the first day of summer. The first season of the show takes place in summer, season two would take place in autumn…so six TV seasons only amount to 18 months of Cathy’s life.”

Besides Linney and Platt, the cast is rounded out by Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidoube (‘Precious‘), who plays Andrea – a high schooler that Cathy teaches that is a bit…challenging. Cynthia Nixon will recur as Cathy’s best friend Rebecca from college. They had a falling out and haven’t spoken in a long time, but she re-enters Cathy’s life and she will “shake things up.” Liam Neeson will also show up later in the season for an episode as someone from the alternative medicine world.

‘The Big C’ premieres Monday, August 16th at 10:30pm on Showtime.