The Big C:: Another Twisted Showtime Woman

Don’t get me wrong, I love the twisted women of Showtime: Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) of Weeds, Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) of Nurse Jackie and Tara Gregson (Toni Colette) of The United States of Tara.  Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney) is in very good and very well written company.  They all have their reasons for throwing sanity to the wind, Nancy has had a hard time of it since her husband died, Jackie is a New York City ER nurse and drug addict and Tara has dissociative identity disorder and teenagers.

In The Big C, Cathy Jamison, a school teacher, has skin cancer (cancer being “the big C”).  As of the second episode (third one airs tonight), she has yet to tell anyone in her life about her diagnosis.  Instead she’s kicked her husband, (Oliver Platt), out of the house for being a big kid (and not in a good way), banned her bratty teenage son, (Gabriel Basso), from soccer camp so she can spend more time with him, tried to give her crazy, homeless brother, (John Benjamin Hickey), money and taken a fat and sassy summer school student, (Gabourey Sidibe) under her wing in an effort to get her to stop smoking and lose some weight by paying her $100 for every pound she loses.  She even tries to befriend a cranky elderly neighbor, (Phyllis Somerville), after calling her the C word for calling code enforcement on the construction of her pool.

Although I like Laura Linney, I have found something a little weird in her performance.  It’s not quite smugness, although there seems a little bit of that too.  It’s this air of effort that seems unnecessary, like she’s pretending to act.  It’s this gently superior smile that is ever so condescending.  She laughs in a slightly unnatural way sometimes and other times she is raw and real.  This weird element in her acting comes and goes and when it’s gone she’s light as air.  However when it’s there, my stomach churns and I start to feel an eye roll coming on. She is alternately bemused by having cancer and devastated by it (although precious little of the latter).  She is alternately loving toward her family and then strangely cruel.  I feel the writers are getting away with her erratic mood swings by saying, “she has cancer, all normal behavior is off the table.”  I’m not in disagreement with that, but I am in disagreement with the fact that they never showed us what she was like before so all of her rebel actions just seem like what she’s really like.  We needed to see uptight Cathy before crazy Cathy came out to play.  She seems far too at home in the let loose world that she claims to have missed out on.  Even the opening credits of her swimming fully clothed while her husband and son watch her with shrugged shoulder looks on their faces are designed to make you think she’s “gone off the deep end”.

I will keep watching though, I like the premise.  I just hope that these snags are just products of the show trying to find it’s feet, although the other shows in the twisted women brigade had no such trouble and were aces from the start.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aunt Susan
    Aug 31, 2010 @ 01:59:00

    Hey ….you made me want to see the Big C. Have to get that remote out a prerecord. Hate watching commericals anymore. What night does it play? Great jouralism, Molly. Keep it up.


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