Pointers for The Big C's Second Season

Calling The Big C’s first season hit-or-miss is actually pretty generous. For a series with such a stellar cast, the show never really hit its stride, stumbling along toward a finale that was emotionally affecting but not well-earned. That said, those tearjerky closing moments gave me hope for Season 2. I’m not holding my breath for greatness, but I’m willing to tough it out for Laura Linney. Here are my suggestions to improve on a rocky first season.

1. Let the humor come naturally.
A comedy about cancer is a tough sell, so I admire The Big C’s inherent audacity. At the same time, too many of the jokes were about Cathy (Linney) being wacky and ridiculous—these moments never felt remotely real. Life is tragic, but it’s often really funny, too. There's no need to force it.

2. Give us reasons to care about the supporting characters.
At the start of the series, Paul (Oliver Platt) and Adam (Gabriel Basso) were aggressively obnoxious. They got better, but it’s still hard to feel sympathy for either one of them. Continue to develop their positive traits—then we’ll talk.

3. Don’t use cancer as an excuse for insanity.
Cathy herself is often tough to like. What kind of mother looks at porn with her son, or calls his crush to give a long, tearful speech about how shy he is? Cathy is honestly kind of terrible, and the idea that cancer makes her that way is tough to swallow and a little insulting.

4. Try to offer some genuine surprises.
Part of the success of Showtime’s Dexter and Weeds comes from their ability to shock the audience. All of The Big C’s apparent twists were telegraphed well in advance: Marlene (Phyllis Somerville) killing herself, Rebecca (Cynthia Nixon) getting pregnant, Dr. Todd (Reid Scott) planting one on his patient. These aren’t just obvious—they’re TV clichés.

5. Use your special guest stars.
I’m glad the season finale gave Cynthia Nixon a bit more to do. She hasn’t yet redeemed herself for Sex and the City 2, but it’s a start. What happened to Gabourey Sidibe’s Andrea, though? And what purpose did she really serve? Also, I’m pretty sure Liam Neeson only showed up to appease Kinsey fans dying for a Linney-Neeson reunion. We’re out there!

6. Give Cathy a friend.
And no, her student, her doctor, her husband, and her son don’t count. Marlene did, but she had to go and die. Rebecca’s certainly a friend, but she’s caught up with Sean and their little bundle of awkward. Cathy needs a confidante to counter the frustrating, self-imposed isolation of Season 1.

7. Figure out what story you want to tell.
The Big C never really came together. Cathy’s motivations were consistently unclear, and her actions felt more like the show spinning its wheels than actual plot development. Now she wants to hold on to life. OK, let’s run with that. But please, no more back-and-forth.

What do you want to see in The Big C’s second season?

Comments (36)
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just finished season 1, the great thing about this show is the reality. Sure, some of the humor seems a little force...but that reflects on the situation. The show is meant to make you feel uncomfortable and question some of the things in your life, not all tv is meant to be warm and fuzzy. As for the suggestion to add more surprise, that's what ruins some of Showtime's best shows. Weeds was great in the first few seasons, because it was semi-believable and the audience could relate to the general emotion, not the situation, of the show. Now it becomes a series of unrealistic events and complete character changes. Once you rob a show of its reality, it becomes gimmicky. Dark comedies are meant to be thought provoking not gimmicky.
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Loved the first season! I just hope Andrea is in season 2
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Actually I loved the Big C and I think this is all complete twaddle. If you don't get it ......shame.
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"Cathy’s motivations were consistently unclear, and her actions felt more like the show spinning its wheels than actual plot development." thats exactly why it does work. the whole series was perfect. loved it!
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I never felt the need to create a TV.com account, but this review seriously is the worst thing I've ever read in my life.You really missed the mark on what the show was about, who the characters are and what they are meant to portray. This review is just an epic fail. THE BIG C IS AMAZING.
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Get over yourself Louis! Or do something more useful than uneducated criticism. Sure the characters are not the best written and could be better, but all in all it is an interesting idea and kept the viewer interested right through to the end. Don't try and re-paint if you don't have a paint brush!
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I absolutely love, love, love this show! I have recommended it to all my friends. Laura Linney is a doll and she does such a wonderful job. My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was 12 and I was diagnosed a few years ago, so I can easily identify with her character as well as her son's. The show title is a bit intimidating. Several of my friends have said that they can't see how watching someone deal with cancer can be entertaining or funny. It's a topic most people choose to avoid. I tell them that I'm sure they'd enjoy the perspective and humor encompassed within each episode, if they'd only take the time to watch. I disagree with Louis Peitzman on a couple of points (specifically 3 & 7). Being diagnosed with cancer is a perfect excuse to act crazy--if only for a little while. Also, Marlene's death came as a complete shock to me. I didn't think it or the Doctor's kiss were necessarily predictable or cliche. I hoped for the kiss but was so sorry to see Marlene go. After Laura, she was my next favorite. Although I enjoy most of them. Perhaps I don't watch enough TV. ;-)
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I actually really liked the show throughout the entire season. I don't see where the negativity is coming from.
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Well... i officially give up with articles and reviews. Looks like I don't watch the same shows. While The Big C is widely considered one of the best and crtically acclaimed, in here it had a rocky season. And the list goes on and on with other shows. So it looks like I'm the one that doesn't belong... cheers!
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I just watched all 13 episodes in the last two days and loved the show. I think all characters things to like and dislike about them...sort of like real people. I hope this show has a few more seasons.
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Interesting article as there seems to be a lot of fans against it. When this comes out on Netflix, I may give this show another chance, but I didn't after its dreadful pilot. With all of the glowing reviews, I'm assuming the show got better if I were to stay with it it longer, but I felt the humor in the pilot was really forced and the pilot was just plain boring. I really like all of the actor's that are in The BIG C, so I really wanted to like it from the beginning. Again, I'll try again when I can Netflix the season.
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I loved the show but I do have to agree with you on some points mostly 2, 5, 6 and a bit of 4. I disagree about 3 it was part of her mourning process.
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I felt the same way about this show. How is it funny that a mother would keep that fact that she was sick from her family. Having cancer is not a reason to become a bad person, parent or wife. I stopped watching the show and I will not return for season 2.
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I loved season 1 of The Big C. I am looking forward to the next season.
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um yeah this wasn't a review it was pointers and personally i wholeheartedly agree with them. They just got rid of Andrea, (i guess the pulled a Judy Winslow she just went home and never came back) a lot of the comedy in the show came from both Andrea and Marlene. The better parts of the series are gone i suppose Andrea could come back but Marlene is dead .
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Everyone hates this review so i think Louis needs to find a new job!!!!
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This is a terrible review !!!! I loved this season everyone thing flowed so well and i cant wait till next season!!!!!
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The best show ever!
Review sucks! (who are these review people?)
Haven't cried in a long time, but the season finale did it for me! The entire show was great!!!
Well written, with taste....will keep on watching.............
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Wow 17 comments that all disagree with this review. Well lets make that 18. this show is effin awesome. This is the best show I have seen in a long time well really ever. I would love to have this go on for seasons and seasons. Even though Marlene is gone i think she is still going to get Cathy through her Chemo (spiritually). Adam at the end had me crying, it was worse than the Selena movie when she died. Then end was sad but Marlene at the end made me feel a sense of relief. This show was written well. I read many many books, this show made me forget that I was watching TV it was like getting lost in a book. I love the cast they have great chemistry. Keep up the good work!
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This review was horrible. I loved the show from episode 1 all the way to the last episode, which I may add, left me crying like a baby. The emotional aspect of the storage scene was amazing! My aunt had cancer and was not supposed to live longer than six months-4 years later she's doing great. I would have to say that perhaps TV.com should consider another person to write these reviews, unless of course the only reason you still have your job is to stir controversy, in which case, well done. The writers of this show should be proud of themselves and its obvious that they kept reality in mind when creating the show.
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This review totally stinks. You are obviously a very cynical person! I agree with everyone's comments, but ONE person here. (you know who you are! LOL) The show is the BEST show I've seen in a long, long time. I care about every single character...even Marlene's dog and those poor fishies out on the lawn.
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you're joking right? it started off good-great.. then became great.. then became awesome-amazing.. then became pure amazing in it's last 2-3 episodes. that finale was perfect and was the closest i came to crying at a tv show in a long while. the adam storage scene + final "heaven" scene with cathy swimming and marlene dancing were emotional and incredible. i have a pretty good feeling the flawless laura linney will be getting that emmy next year. unless edie falco stops her. but there hasn't been a double win in that category in forever. and laura is reaaaaaally good :)
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I loved the Big C. As far as the comment on what kind of a mother calls her son's crush ... I'd say a good mom. The show is amazing and human. I don't see why anyone would have any complaints about it.
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I lost it last night. I LOVE this show! The writters are alsome. Please keep it coming. The cast is wonderful and I have been telling everyone about this show.
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TERRIBLE review, this show is among the best on TV right now, great writting, characters and story, and of course, Laura Linney... Can't wait for the second season! Congrats to Gabriel Basso for that scene at the storage room!
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Watching Adam in the storage looking at all his presents and realizing that his mother MIGHT not be there to see him accomplish growing up, got me all teary eyed.
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I did NOT foresee Marlene killing herself so that to me was a shocker. All in all, I really enjoyed the first season. It was touching and funny. The finale caught me by surprise...I DID NOT expect to ball up...I was so embarrassed but I give it to the show...I'm not the crying type but it got me.
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i dont agree with this at all! i loved this show! && cathy didnt die, she's doing another treatment! this is a very touching show that most people can relate to since most of us have lost someone to cancer! i really hope there is a 2nd season and possibly a 3rd! there is just so much more to living with cancer and thats what everyone is lookin forward to seein is her long road and her struggle, you cant base a show about cancer only on her short little journey there is so much more to it she isnt showing signs of bein sick and he son barely found out! this show was great and i cant wait to see where it goes! i think cathy is an amazing character and i love the story line! great show, great actors, and a fantastic story line! i give the show five stars *****
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Cathy didn't die in the end, btw, for the poster below who thinks otherwise. Louis, your review is so terrible. What grown adult woman has a bunch of friends - sorry, Louis, this isn't Wisteria Lane. If you want that kind of drama, you'll have to go to daytime tv. What motivations is she supposed to have? Have you ever been touched by someone with cancer.... my guess is NO. Not only has my life been affected by cancer because of my mother, I currently work for an organization that works with cancer patients. People with cancer have constantly changing opinions where they often do some crazy things (like someone afraid of heights desperately wanting to bungee jump off a bridge - my mother did it) so who are you to say that this isn't true? It's more unbelievable that she has no psychological symptoms and she has stage IV melanoma (which usually always attacks the brain pretty severely). You sound like a nagging housewife, Louis. Go back to watching 'Bold and the Beautiful' and waste your time on a show of your caliber - like Desperate Housewives.
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First off, I'd just like to say that you are probably the only person who thinks negatively of the Big C. The reason Paul and Adam are so annoying is because most families are. They're being realistic. Cathy isn't insane, she's dying and she doesn't want to waste her life away. She wants to live it up the best she can. She is a genuinely nice person. Maybe you find it hard to like her because you're obviously more judgemental than her. From the likes of your review, you seem a little less optimistic than Cathy. My favorite is when you wrote the Big C never really came together. This woman is dying of cancer. Honestly, do you think your motivations and actions would be 100% clear? Her life is spinning, of course the show is going to spin with her. Like a good show, the performance was in sync with the main character's emotions. (& a4ty4d, she didn't die, Paul mentioned there were going to be hallucinations during the process of her procedure.) And Marlene JUST died. Did you expect Cathy to run off and find a best friend the next day? Just because the season is over doesn't mean the series is. There's going to be a season two, it's a given. The show was a hit, and everyone other you seems to agree.
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the Big C was awesome,Louis dont ever write a review again, very well written, very funny, an serious when it had to be you can't ask for anything else looking forward to season 2
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I hate to burst your bubble, but you might benefit from watching the series from the beginning again. The Big C is written wonderfully. It's creative, and exactly what many cancer patients would love to experience. Sad, heartfelt, hilarious, and crazy. Maybe cancer is NOT a reason to act out of context but its a show. To see a cancer patient try ecstasy, attempt to connect with their teenage son, deal with a marital seperation, everything and anything without losing there cool, stay optimistic and fight to live, is outstanding. While also staying as responsible as she ever has been. Hundreds of people are told they have cancer everyday. This show may help people realize that some of the stupid things they would want to do may not be the best decisions they can make. Cancer is not always a death sentence. Cancer or no cancer, life is too short. I'm very glad this show is on and hope it sticks around. The comedy is spot on. Any more would be morbid and any less would result in canceling the series. The show is about a cancer patient and her life with these people. Not about the guest stars and not the supporting actors. Guest stars did exactly what they got paid for and didn't steal the show. I'm very sorry that you misunderstood the message that is being sent out through the series but i hope you get it soon so you can enjoy the rest of Cathy's life along with the rest of us.
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This is the worst review ever - The show was great with great supporting characters. It would be okay for the series to end as is - but I am looking forward to season 2.
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I would be surprised if there is a second season. Everything in season one was resolved nicely and Cathy died peacefully in the end -- end of story. Why does everything have to be a continuing story? A well written, well casted single season series might be a refreshing change. It might even attract more high-powered actors to the small screen.
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I agree with almost nothing in this review. I thought it was a great show, and so did the 3 friends also I've gotten to follow it. I did not forsee most of the "twists". I agree that she needs a friend and that the Andrea and Lenny story lines were random.

I can't wait for next season.
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I disagree with every comment. I've loved this show and its characters from the first episode. I hope there's a second season...and a third....
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