In this week's episode of Chasing Life,
April skips work to go to a living funeral for a friend who has not yet died, and Brenna tracks down her half-sister in Florida.
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Sometimes, I think Chasing Life should have aired during the '90s.
Like, it has all the makings of a '90s show. Or a Canadian show in the late 2000s. (Canadian shows are about a decade behind American shows. Proof? Lost Girl.) She works at a newspaper like Carrie from Sex and the City. She deals with her cancer by not dealing with it, a classic '90s heroine trait. The pace moves like molasses as if the show had a full 22-episode pick-up; Chasing Life has a 20-episode pick-up. The show wants to be a dramedy about something serious, a la Felicity. What I'm trying to say is that this show would have fit perfectly with The WB or UPN. Maybe ABC.
There's nothing wrong with that, I guess, except it feels so outdated. Like, just the plots. The main plot has dreamboat Leo organizing a living funeral for Walking Plot Device Cancer Kid Jackson. It's a perfectly fine plot that maybe would have seemed fresh in 1998, but in 2014? I've seen it before. In The Fault in Our Stars, for starters. It's okay when a show recycles plots from other works -- it's the entirety of English canon, for example -- but it needs to execute it well. Chasing Life is getting there, but it still feels outdated.
Death is All Around
April's kind of incredibly comfortable about how casually people bring up death in this episode. My number one advice to her is to stop hanging around old and/or dying people, but that doesn't get through her head. I will also say I don't really understand this because no one in my household is dying, but we legit joke about dying all the time.
April has a meeting with her doctor and Uncle George. The plan is for April to go to chemo for a month at the hospital and then get a bone marrow transplant from her sister -- or one of them. I guess this is the point of the sibling storyline. That's heavy. It especially worries April, who is more and more concerned about her cancer and dying ever since her beau Dimples left town. After some bull crap weather stuff happens at the office, April takes a sick day -- the first of many, I'm sure.
She decides that after all her various cancer support group activities, she might as well hang out with her Cancer Friends: Leo, this really beautiful girl named Meg and this very close to death guy named Jackson, mainly.
Leo has taken to becoming a very own Make-A-Wish Foundation for his Cancer Friends. Organizing a trip for someone to Iceland, arranging for a funeral, breaking people out. They are really campaigning for Leo as a love interest. Leo's going to be a classic case of died too young, died too pure. It's honestly a little much after last week had Leo manipulate Dominic and April's relationship.
Regardless, that doesn't take away from Leo's awesomeness at arranging for Meg to strip at a club. Wearing a super long blonde wig, Meg strips and this is actually very cute and empowering. A woman with cancer feels sexy and positive after her body has turned on her. For having fake cancer/cancer, though, Meg looks great! Sure, the scene is too long and it drags, but I'm all for female empowerment.
After the strip club scene, everyone sits down for some grub. Meg sings Leo's praises and April finally figures out that Leo paid her fertility treatment. How many rich people do April know? For a journalist, she isn't the brightest.
After the strip club, the whole Cancer Gang plus Beth go to Jackson's live funeral. By live funeral, I mean one in which Jackson himself attends. As The Fault in Our Stars once said, funerals are for the living. I'm not sure what April and Beth expected, but it was always going to be sad. Everyone gives their two cents about why Jackson will be missed, with Jackson commenting about how he played the game even if he lost. He asks for a hit of that joint, and then a college a cappella group sings "Bad Day." (A little over the top, honestly.) As much as I want to talk about Jackson, we know this show is about April. April does not take this well because finally she's accepting how serious her situation is. I see a tear stain on her cheek.
Also, because everything is about her, she imagines her own funeral with the cast and a bunch of random extras coming to visit her in the casket. Like, who are these other people she cares about behind the main and supporting cast? April has one friend, one sister, one mother and two boyfriends. Her life is not super complicated.
After the funeral, Leo and April have their inevitable scene where April sees Leo as a good guy. Leo explains that he enjoys helping people for a different legacy. Then he goes in for the kiss, but it's such a weird camera angle that we don't see the kiss, which is annoying. April stops him and then kisses him back and they full-on makeout and tear each other's clothes off.
After the commercial break, they are just calmly putting their clothes back on, like they didn't just have very public sex in a church. In fact, that is what happens, plus a super weird post-coital talk about death. It's almost like super uncomfortable because it's like they just forgot about it (which can partially be the actor's/director's fault). What you need to know, though, is that although Leo is terminable, there is still "hope." They can operate, but after assessing the risks, he decides he's going to die on his terms. This upsets April because she doesn't want one of her boyfriends to die, but it's not her choice, you know?
Leo the love interest is sort of a mess. The writers clearly want us and April to fall for him, but with his manipulation last week and pushing himself in everyone's lives, Leo's just a sad guy. He has a personality, but it's just so clear that no one is going to care about Leo when he dies except for April. It makes their romance painful because it won't end well, not one bit.
Someone is Worse Than Brenna
Conveniently, Brenna is going on a trip to Miami with her eco club and Greer, and Miami just happens to be an hour away from where Natalie Ortiz lives. After showing up with no announcement, Natalie is not very nice. She also has ridiculous eyebrows. Natalie wants nothing to do with Brenna, especially since April was a complete talking freak that one time. But she invites them to go drinking with her.
After drinking with her slightly trashy friends, Natalie awkwardly asks if Greer and Brenna are lesbians. Greer gets sick after a drink or two and Natalie is very unhelpful. Still, Natalie is painful to watch because she is such a brat. Even when Brenna asks Natalie about potentially giving April some bone marrow, she barely lightens up. She is one bitter pill about being the bastard daughter, especially towards Sarah, who knew about Natalie. Oh. Oh.
Sarah, meanwhile, is bonding with her cancer caregivers group, despite the fact that she hasn't really taken care of April yet. She runs into George on the boat; he's sort of a big deal because he saves children's lives, but he's a mess personally since his brother died. All I want to know is this: are we gonna get a brother-in-law/sister-in-law romance? I am not sure how I feel about this.
Back on the home front, April and Sarah reconcile. Everyone is home and April is determined to fight this cancer.
- The doctor kind of cracks me up. "Patient would like to not die." I imagine you have to have a good sense of humor as an oncologist.
- Oh, look, Dominic is here for about 30 seconds, fulfilling a contractual obligation. Bye, Dominic!
- Beth is still sleeping with Graham. April cracks me up with her delivery about Graham.
- I like how important support groups are on this show. They are very important, helpful and everyone is in them. This also feels a little old, but more from the early 2000s than anything.
airs Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)