Cancer is a tough sell, but I’ve been loving ABC Family’s Chasing Life, a drama about a 20-something with cancer. Its first season finale is tonight — it does look like it’s going to involve more cancer after a remission — and you should check it out. Despite the cancer, because of the cancer, whatever works for you.
I must admit that the reason I started watching is that my brilliant friend, Patrick Sean Smith, who created one of my favorite shows of the last decade, Greek, is the showrunner on Chasing Life. I mention this as a disclaimer, but also because it explains why the cancer wasn’t a hurdle for me. I watched it to support him, but I kept watching because I was drawn into the show. Cancer — and other fatal illnesses — have been sort-of romanticized at times in teen entertainment, as in The Fault in Our Stars and The Red Band Society. Chasing Life chooses a nice middle-path, making cancer simply one part of main character April’s life. On one hand, fighting with cancer has given her more perspective on her young life. On the other, what seemed like a big deal to her at first is just becoming part of who she is. She still has to struggle with work and romance and friends like any 20-something.
Those are the reasons I actually like this show: First of all, she’s a newspaper reporter, which is what I was in my 20s. And, miraculously, the show gets newspaper drama right, which is a rarity. (Don’t get me started on Never Been Kissed.) In some ways, April’s race to break more scoops than her colleagues felt more dramatic — or maybe more relatable — than her fight with cancer. And as a Greek fan, I have, of course, particularly enjoyed her romance with fellow cancer patient Leo, played by Scott Michael Foster (that is, Cappie).
A second season is happening, so that’s the good news. I’m looking forward to seeing lots more of Chasing Life.