Cancer gets first TV comedy twist in "The Big C"

Thu Aug 12, 2010 8:35am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Cathy Jamison wants a pool in her absurdly tiny garden. She has just been diagnosed with terminal stage 4 melanoma, and she wants that pool. Now.

Cathy, played by award-winning actress Laura Linney, is an uptight suburban teacher with an immature husband and a brat for a son. She is also the lead character in America's first TV comedy about cancer.

But the "The Big C", which debuts on cable channel Showtime on August 16, is less a fun series about battling the disease, and more a comedy about a middle-aged woman who has cancer and how she decides to live the rest of her life.

"Cathy is a woman who doesn't really know who she is. She has the opportunity to find out, and so she takes it...She has a sense of liberation, which is odd given she is dying," Linney told TV journalists.

Some 1.5 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with some form of cancer by the end of 2010, and more than 569,000 will die, according to the American Cancer Society.

So as unlikely a topic for humor as the subject may seem, the creator of "The Big C" believes cancer is overdue for the dark comedy treatment.

"People who have dealt with cancer, or cancer survivors themselves, almost feel a little under-represented on TV. So I hope they will feel they have a hero they can laugh and cry with -- hopefully a little more laughter than tears," creator Darlene Hunt told Reuters.

"I am hoping it will be a show for everybody. I think America is beyond ready for it," Hunt added.   Continued...

<p>Cast member and executive producer Laura Linney participates in the panel for "The Big C" during the CBS, Showtime and the CW Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 29, 2010. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>