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The Big C: "There's No C in Team"

Illustration for article titled iThe Big C/i: Theres No C in Team
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A few weeks ago I sat down and watched the first three episodes of The Big C in a row, and this was the episode where I started wanting a bit more. I was glad that Cathy branched out and joined the cancer support group and I understood why she didn’t particularly get into their message of “Cancer is the passport to the life you were meant to live.” However, when she defensively told Sean “I have plenty of friends!” I realized, “Where are they?”  No girlfriends from college, no other moms, no teachers with whom she is close enough to go out for a glass of wine and a giggle? Anything? Maybe Cathy really is as unfun as her son and brother think she is.  

The show opens with her behaving ridiculously, trying to entice Adam to go riding on a sissy-looking tandem bike to get soft serve, after she embarrassed him by kidnapping him at paintball gunpoint on the schoolbus.  Pathetically, she takes the bike on her own to try and convince Sean, who also isn’t interested. You know you’re sad when your brother, the living embodiment of Oscar the Grouch, won’t even go with you out of pity.  So she gets ice cream on her own and discovers the support group, where cancer is viewed as a gift. Cathy tries a single exercise and doesn’t like it when her partner tells her it’s sad that she’s living alone with her secret, so she splits.  The group comes to her, dubbing itself “Team Cathy” and deposits a big casserole at her house.

Again, Cathy is so apparently hard up for friends that she invites Andrea, Sean and his (rather broadly drawn) hippie girlfriend Daphne over for dinner. Daphne is played by Annie Parisse, the Assistant DA who was murdered on Law and Order so it’s weird to see her as an aura-reading lady who works at Whole Foods and loves a guy who smells like trash.  The dinner party is something of a fiasco as Andrea and Adam pair off as do Sean and Daphne, and Cathy is left hanging, her only friend Thomas, Marlene’s dog who’s been following everywhere.  Cathy bribes Andrea to take Thomas for a walk with Adam, and she ends up getting into a fight with Marlene who demands that the “colored’ girl let go of her dog.  

Cathy heads out to get a pack of smokes and Team Cathy confronts her, and she gets angry at them for their pro-cancer attitude (although of course maybe it’s more than just the group she’s mad at).  Once she gets home, she finds that Paul has re-created their college spring break, sand and all, in their living room and he asks her to marry him once again.  Why is Cathy annoyed with him for bringing sand in the house when she’s decided it’s time to burn the couch and her son’s clothes? Why does he keep begging his seemingly-crazy and cold wife back?  The reasons why he’s so drawn to her, and why she truly keeps turning him down are unclear at this point and their constant futile exchange started to wear thin for me here.  She needed to tell Paul about her cancer right here: just confusing him didn’t seem like a better course of action.  

Cathy tries to bolt but she ends up hitting Thomas with her car.  Marlene finds her in the vet ER and asks her what kind of cancer she has: the dog followed her husband around when he was dying from cancer as well.  The two of them then enjoy pina coladas on Paul’s makeshift home beach.  

I’m glad Cathy finally has a semi-friend who’s aware she has cancer, and I guess it’s clever that the only person who knows is someone who is what she’d eventually look like if she lived out her whole life: crabby, sassy and alone. But still it’s more sad and pathetic than anything else.

Since it’s been a few weeks since I’ve watched a new episode I’m looking forward to seeing if the show starts feeling confident that it’s established its premise and characters and starts taking us places.

—”You know you can’t hate black people, right?” “Oh, I don’t.”

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