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The Big C: "Taking Lumps"

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It’s a step forward, a step back once again for Cathy and The Big C. I enjoyed seeing what she and Paul and Adam are like when they’re a happy family. However, I think we all knew there was a big “but” hanging over the entire episode, that everything would go south sooner or later.


The episode begins with Cathy continuing to phone in her teaching job as she pops in a VHS tape for her students as she runs off to sex Lenny, who notices a bump on her bum that the doctor tells her is a metastasis. Cathy decides she’d like to have it removed, and muses whether she did anything to deserve her cancer, or at the very least isn’t doing anything to make her disease any more pleasant by being a better person. Dr. Todd tells her that she’ll have to have a family member pick her up after the procedure, so she asks Marlene, who thinks it’s time Cathy tells her family about her condition.

Paul and Adam have agreed to take part in the town bathtub races so at home they get the tub ready while Sean comes over to rummage through Cathy’s duct tape supplies: his ribs got cracked in a fight, and Cathy gets him to agree to let her take care of him. Tender family moments ensue.

Full of familial devotion, Cathy lets Lenny know that she doesn’t think she can continue their affair, claiming that she couldn’t cheat on Paul since he would never do that to her (we knew where this was going, right?) Lenny takes this news in stride but offers to be there for Cathy if she needs him. Andrea catches this exchange and somehow narrows her eyes more than usual. She later asks Lenny what he thinks about black guys “betraying the race,” licking an Oreo seductively which I would think would indicate she is all about the delicious blending of the races but maybe that metaphor got away from me.

Back home, getting ready for the bathtub race party, Cathy and Paul flirt which has an immediate positive effect on Adam. Cathy and Paul later make love, and the next day their team wins the race. Cathy invites Andrea to the house party but Andrea, jealous of Cathy and Lenny, says “Fuck off: I’m not your friend.” Later on, she spraypaints a big FUCK YOU across Lenny’s rainbow mural at the school and then and admires her work in a way that indicates the school doesn’t have security cameras (that we know of, anyway.)


At the party, we finally see what Cathy and Paul were like when they were a fun, operational couple but if you’re like me you could see the bomb being dropped a mile away. “We’ve always been honest with each other, right?” she asks him. She’s about to tell him about her cancer (and while I still knew this would be aborted, I kind of hoped it wouldn’t, because this whole thing of her being about to tell him and then not is getting old, fast) when the writers have Paul commit one of the biggest cliches in dialogue history. In real life, if a person says he or she has something big to tell you, you don’t interrupt them with your own crap, right? Then why does it happen on TV and in the movies? Anyway, before Cathy has time to tell Paul what’s up, he tells her Tina gave him a hand job. He hopes they can talk it out in therapy and make it all better, but Cathy tells him to STFU and Adam immediately reacts (that kid’s mood is really tuned-in to his parents’ relationship) and storms off.

In case you can’t tell, the whole setup and dismantling of that storyline pissed me off just in terms of the obvious way it was handled, but the following two scenes redeemed the episode somewhat. After leaving the party, Adam complains to Andrea about how his mom is batshit crazy, and he asks for her opinion on what’s up. Andrea looks at him for a moment, as if she might tell him about Lenny, but she doesn’t say a thing, so it’ll be interesting to see what Andrea does with this information down the line.


After the procedure, Cathy calls up Marlene for a ride, but we see Marlene at home, peering into her fridge and seeing a bedroom slipper, indicating that Marlene might not be the failsafe confidante or reliable friend Cathy assumes she is. Since the only person who knows she has cancer is going senile, Cathy calls on Lenny, who picks her up and takes her away.

The Big C has been renewed for a second season, which I hope means it’s in the cards that Cathy tells someone else about her cancer, because if she almost-tells Paul and then doesn’t one more time I’m going to scream.


—I really hope Sean’s character becomes less of a cartoon as the series goes on. After he ate the worm off his plate I half-expected him to spit out the germs, before he retired to his garbage can.

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