“The Big C” brings another great actress to the small screen

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will forever refer to The Big C as “The C Word.”

For one thing, the name of the Showtime series originally was called The C Word. My guess is that once Showtime saw the first episode of The Real L Word, they wanted to distance everything else on the network from that nightmare, so changed the name.

Of course, the show does have an L at its center — actually, two Ls: Laura Linney. And she is fabulous, as always.

If you happen to be one of the few people left in the world that doesn’t have a crush on Linney, I invite you to watch her appearance on The Daily Show from last week.


Could she be any cuter? Seriously, she has the best smile in the universe. (Yes, I am a sucker for dimples.) And even if she didn’t say really smart things, which she does, I’d still want to listen to that voice. Sigh.

In The Big C, Linney plays Cathy Jamison, a teacher and not-so-happily-married wife diagnosed with The Big C, i.e., cancer. We’ve been talking about the show quite a bit around here because it costars Gabourey Sidibe as Cathy’s student Andrea.

And Cynthia Nixon has a recurring role as Cathy’s college roomie Rebecca.

What about the show itself? So far, Linney is the very best thing about it. That’s no surprise, I guess, but I was ready to be blown away — and I wasn’t.

Not that it’s bad, mind you — especially compared to what this show would be on network TV. I just get the feeling that the writers are looking for the formula that worked with United States of Tara, i.e., take a serious illness and find the humor in and around it. As much as I love Tara, I don’t want to see this show go down the same path.

That said, the first episodes have to introduce the characters and the set up and give viewers a chance to settle in. Establishing a premise takes time and, as I recall, I wasn’t too enthralled with the first few eps of Tara, either.

The character of Cathy definitely has the potential to be as strong and distinctive as Tara or Jackie or Nancy Botwin, especially with Linney playing her. I loved Cathy’s interaction with her neighbor Marlene (the one with the lesbian daughter), especially when Cathy called her the very c-word most of us think of long before “cancer. And a particular conversation near the end of the show sets the stage for an unusual friendship that could literally extend Cathy’s life.

The kind folks at Showtime have made the first episode available, so you can decide for yourself what you think. Here’s a video of the half-hour entire show (also available here), minus the aforementioned c-word and a few other not-so-PG moments. Apologies to readers who are unable to view it.


The episode also is showing On Demand and, of course, The Big C premieres tonight, right after Weeds, on Showtime. We’ll be sure and keep you up to date on any and all lesbian moments.

What do you think of the first episode of The Big C? Will you keep watching?