The Big C Review: Fishing for Happiness

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On last week's episode of The Big C, as Paul Jamison was finding his voice as a motivational speaker in San Juan, he told attendees to enjoy the heck out of life because "we only have so many breaths" on this planet.

So, along those inspiring lines, I must now announce: I think I must "Fly Away" from this Showtime series following a lackluster conclusion to a disappointing season.

The Big C Season Finale Pic

As I wrote throughout Season 3, The Big C veered far away from a show about a woman dealing with her cancer diagnosis. It went in a number of unexpected, far out there directions, from a phony pregnancy scheme to a sudden bus accident.

And while the finale remained far more grounded than past episodes, it didn't give me any gripping reason to tune in for Season 4 (if there is one; Showtime is yet to renew the series). It did, however, make me dislike Cathy even more than before.

This is one selfish woman.

It was somewhat interesting to listen to Cathy discuss how awkward life as a cancer patient can be - does she give in to the tears? Fight them off for the sake of her family? Celebrate life? Mourn impending death? - and I wish the season had focused more on her internal struggle than the aforementioned random events.

But I see nothing noble or interesting about a woman who simply abandons her son and swims off with a stranger. She walked a few feet, saw how unappealing supposedly real life can be, realized she doesn't fit in anywhere at this point, and decided to get away from it all? I could maybe have bought this if there was more build up.

Moreover, the entire construction of the finale was contrived. I don't consider it brilliant or creative writing to simply have Cathy stuck with a man who only speaks Spanish, giving her the opportunity to just run down her life in an expository manner for the audience. This is telling, over showing, at its worst. It's boring and it's lazy.

So I likely won't be covering The Big C again next year, if there is a Big C to cover. I remain an enormous fan of Laura Linney and the cast in general, but this is a show that lost any semblance of direction for me on Season 3.

What did everyone else think?


Editor Rating: 2.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.3 / 5.0 (46 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


I'm sure that Cathy is already dead and that San Juan was a failed attempt to revive her. I certainly hope (Esperanto!) that this was the last episode as it was starting to be more endured than enjoyed. All the clues and allegories in this episode (Angel, Good Friday, broken down boat etc) are totally crass if there is another season and they were just "coincidences".


selfish? yes, cathy is selfish. and its a natural way of living. we as people are designed to be selfish and we have a right to a little selfishness. if we arent we are stepped on by others. i love how cathy is, period. having a fatal cancer has given her every right to live the last of her days how she wishes to. if you were dying wouldnt you live like you were dying? i would. i so hope season 4 comes, and i hope further for a season after cathy passes away. wrapping up their mourning and moving on in life. i am selfishly wishing for this selfish character to carry on.


Since I just discovered this series (and watched all 3 seasons in the past 2 weeks) I would be really disappointed if they canceled it. I truly doubt that Cathy will stay in Esperanza long, but I don't blame her for wanting some time to herself. I think the first commenter's idea was quite original - I doubt that is the plot line, but what if it was? I still like this show and look forward to future episodes.


What if Cathy died while on her outing underwater having her anxiety issue aS FOUND PRESENT WHILE IN TRAINING. What if when she died, got picked up by "Angel" in purgatory (the Boat) and when the "motor" finally started she had another chance at life and went back to her destination which was her life and decided to go back with "angel" which then tranlats into her body being rescued and brought back to life and the chance to die or live. or maybe San Juan was really hell.....It looked like it to me


I was getting annoyed with her in season 2, but the first few episodes of this season and I stopped watching it. I just caught up, (since all my favorite shows have ended for now) I had hothing to watch so half heartly watched the rest of the season, ff'rd through many parts. I had no idea this was the finale until I came in here to see if other people are as fed up and turned off as I am. I have to say the whole anal sex thing with the son, her gross brother and the phone sex business and thruple, what was that all about? I really hate the brother role too. Frat house for sure. Then the weird scam pregnancy couple? Didn't Kathy say her best moment in life was her son, and then she is like the worst mother ever?
Aboo and her husband were by far the most interesting characters this season and I enjoyed Susan Sarandons turn and felt they cut that story off much too quick. It was strange to watch a show fall apart in front of my eyes like this one did. It had so much potential. I would actually like to see her die.
She turned into a very unlikable character.
I have a feeling we will not get to see that, because I would be surprised if it got renewed at this point.


I cannot believe the ending. I think that this DOES mean the show is over. The way it was written it looks like not only does Cathy want to carry on with her family or her life as she knew it, I think since her tumors are back she wants a peaceful way to die. The way she is doing this is to go off on the boat where she found peace and then die. I wonder if the name Angel (the boat dude)had a hidden meaning of sorts. Her husband saying his wife died and moving on right away to another woman. I feel there is no way back from the way they ended the episode. I think the writers purposely did it. I think they wanted this kind of response to the ending.
IF they were going to end the show there could have been a better way of ending things.
Look at the last show of six feet that was the best good bye to a great show.


I have been so very disappointed in this series this year. It seemed that the writers could not deal with the real issues and clouded the storyline with ridiculous and gratuitous sex situations- "thruples", phone sex, anal and other base comments. It seems that the story lines were written at the frat house after all night keggers, instead of by a mature group of scriptwriters. So sad to waste such talent as Laura Linney. I will not watch another season of this offensive show.


Last year's finale almost moved me to tears..this year moved me to change the channel


After last night’s disappointing season finale I removed The Big C from any future tapings. The show has a sensitive story line and talented cast; unfortunately the writers didn’t know how to handle. Season 3 was sad to watch for all the wrong reasons.


This is why I quit watching "Weeds". I get the feeling the writers truly have no grasp on reality....It is sad watching a promising idea devolve into making it up as you go along. Teenage anal sex.....Really? Count me out.

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