‘The Big C’ – ‘Playing the Cancer Car’: Sticks and claws

Senior Television Writer
09.14.10 30 Comments


The network TV season starts on Monday, which means I’m going to have to start making hard decisions about what I have time to watch and write about. I had hoped that last night’s “The Big C” might convince me to keep making the effort, but if Idris Elba wasn’t about to show up, “Playing the Cancer Car” might have put the show into That’s It For Me! territory. Some quick thoughts on why coming up just as soon as I focus on middle management…

Simply put, I’ve come to realize that I can’t stand Cathy except when she’s in the company of Marlene or Dr. Todd – in other words, when she’s being honest and not irritatingly smug – I dislike every member of her family, find Cathy’s various opponents (here the rugby floozy) to be caricatured strawmen and don’t think the performances or the occasional lovely image like the lobster in the pool are enough to keep me interested. This one actually had a fair amount of Cathy with Dr. Todd, but halfway through she decided to play-act again for the realtor and annoyed me all over again.

I don’t have to like the central character of a series in order to stick with it. To use the most obvious comparison, Walter White has become pretty loathsome over the course of “Breaking Bad,” for instance. But I have to have something to latch onto with that character, some way to understand why they are the way they are, or perhaps something that makes me appreciate their presence even though their overall behavior is repugnant. (Walt’s a genius chemist, Tony Soprano was a strong mob boss, Don Draper a great ad man, etc.) “The Big C” hasn’t offered that, and the occasional moments where Cathy is a recognizable human being are too few and far between.

I imagine I’ll check in on the show after the fall premieres quiet down, but I expect this will be the last time I write about it for a while.

What did everybody else think? 

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