“Chasing Life” does some things really well. One of them is showcasing the stages of grief that terminally ill people experience.
April is no longer in denial. That was in the first few episodes. Now she’s angry. Not that she’s throwing massive fits or something, but she’s angry at her cancer and she’s going to fight it. Some people with cancer (thankfully) never leave the anger stage because they fight back and the cancer goes into remission. That may ultimately be the case for April (we won’t know for sure until the end of what is hopefully a seasons-long TV program).
But the other stages of grief are beautifully displayed by the members of April’s cancer support group. Tonight Jackson was in center stage. He only has a few weeks left and he’s moved into the acceptance stage. The only thing he wishes for is to be at his own funeral because it’s a party thrown in your honor that you aren’t even there for, as he puts it.
So guardian angel Leo steps in and makes it happen. He throws a funeral for Jackson and it’s gorgeous and touching. Not a dry eye on my house. It also helps April in her own dealing with the stages of grief. It doesn’t move her into acceptance, but it certainly gives her a better feeling about what she might be facing.
Speaking of Leo, one might think at first glance that he’s in the acceptance stage too. He’s decided he wants to die under his own terms, so he’s electing not to try the surgery to remove his tumor. But I think Leo’s in depression. I think Leo puts on a good front, but really he’s just scared that the surgery might not work out exactly the way he wants and he’s coping with his depression about his not-great options by playing Make-A-Wish Foundation with the cancer support group.
April calls him out for giving up by not at least trying the surgery, which I’m glad she did from a writing standpoint because I think April as a character would totally do that. However, I fear the show is going the way of April convincing Leo to have the surgery and then having him magically get better, at least long enough for a lengthy love triangle, since April and Leo just slept together with Dominic on tour with Daft Punk.
And that would disappoint me. Don’t get me wrong, I love April and Leo. I’m Team Leo. But having his tumor magically clear up for a while seems like an easy trope. What would be much meatier and more daring for the writers would be if Leo dies at the end of Season 1 and it will rip all of our hearts out.
I trust in this show, though, so I’m looking forward to where it goes. It certainly hasn’t disappointed me so far.
A few more thoughts
- Boy, Natalie Ortiz sure is a witch-with-a-b, huh? I totally understand her feelings of being the left-out kid, but drugging Greer? That’s way over the line. The line is a dot to that decision. Which will make it all the more dramatic when she turns out to be April’s bone marrow donor, right?
- Sarah and George seem to have a romantic history, don’t they? Curious.
- The cancer-having stripper, while ridiculous on several levels, was also fairly hilarious and charming. You go, girl.
What did you think of “Death Becomes Her”?