What did I do on my summer vacation? I traveled, did some reading, wrote a chapter or two—and I watched a lot of Netflix. In fact, I just finished watching another seven-season series. At 12 episodes per season, that’s roughly 2,500 minutes or 42 hours of my life I will never get back. But I so looked forward to clicking that little play button and seeing what was next for this character or that one. And I loved being able to say, “Just one more show” even at 1 am. I was hooked. But after the series finale, I was left with this giant hole in my gut. The characters I had come to love and despise were no more. With the closing credits of the final episode, I panicked. I needed a quick fix—a new show to fill the void. Come on, you guys know what I mean.
So I went on the hunt for something new—a comedy or something with a little grit—and stumbled across ABC’s Chasing Life. I have to admit that it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. But I decided to give it a shot for one reason—I loved John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. If you haven’t read it or watched the movie, it’s about two teens who fall in love. But here’s the catch: both of them have cancer. Sigh. Chasing Life is about a twenty-something who gets her dream job, an amazing new boyfriend, and the-not-so-great news that she has leukemia. Double sigh. So why do we read these books or watch movies about terminally ill cancer patients? Why do we get pulled in to these narratives? Can anyone give me one good reason to watch a show about young people living with and dying of cancer?
Kaitlin Thomas from tv.com gives five reasons to watch Chasing Life including, “It’s realistic, not melodramatic fiction.” Okay, I’ll bite. Maybe audiences watch/read because “it” (aka cancer) happens in real life. Maybe people are relating. So many of us have been touched by the “C” word in one way or another. I know I have. The National Cancer Institute estimates that “approximately 8 million Americans alive today have a history of cancer” and about 1,228,600 people will be diagnosed this year alone. These statistics show a startling reality—a reality that is fueling many of the fictional narratives we’re watching and reading today, e.g. Red Band Society, Chasing Life, Fault, etc. So, what do you think about this trend? A trend, as Thomas writes, that involves “exactly zero vampires, werewolves, witches, or superheroes.” However, with no vampires and lots of talk about cancer, Thomas also states, “It’s hard to sell people on shows [books] that sound super depressing.”
Do you agree? Thoughts? I’d love to hear what you have to say, so drop me a line. And, thanks as always for stopping by!