In this week's episode of Chasing Life,
April ignores her cancer diagnosis and treatment while pursuing a profile of a political candidate, but this causes conflict with a senior writer. And Brenna is still the worst.
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Second episodes of shows are always the toughest because they have the most to prove. A pilot introduces us to the set-up, the characters, the world: aspiring journalist April has cancer and cannot bear to tell her family, friends and work just yet. The pilot sets up the premise. The second episode usually has a double duty to remind the audience of what the premise is and also to show what the series will be. The second episode sets up the premise, the series and how episodes work. Can a story about a 20-something with cancer be serialized? Is this show building upon its premise?
Chasing Life improves upon its pilot with a much better second episode (and a much better third episode, but that's next week), but it still has a shaky ground.
The aspect of the pilot I absolutely hated was the long-lost secret half-sister April meets at the cemetery when visiting her father. The episode picks up from the last beat of the pilot, unfortunately. At least the show's awkward humor has improved, with April quite literally chasing her spooked sister through the tombstones before April snaps a quick pic at her license plate.
Afterward, April meets Beth at a restaurant to break the bad news. April says she has leukemia -- no, for real -- and full-on rants at Beth about everything that happened in the pilot. It's a really good moment for Beth as she breaks down and cries as April consoles her, but I can't help but be a little frustrated with April. If there's one really big fault of April that I both admire and hate, it's how April is a very controlled, possibly cerebral person. She seems to be more of a thinker than a feeler, which I can relate to a lot. But how she's processed this news -- in a day or two's time -- feels a little superhuman. Of course, April isn't okay with having cancer, and we saw her breakdown a little in the pilot, but girl has a serious case of D.E.N.I.A.L. She also is a little more concerned with her job and a guy and her family drama over her health, but again, it hasn't sunk in.
Even a doctor's visit with her uncle doesn't really scare her. He wants her to rip off the cancer band-aid and tell everyone, especially her boss. She insists that they can hold treatment off a little while longer because she read something on Web MD. That's not true, but it still bothers me when people don't trust their doctors on things they know nothing about. Either get a second opinion or stop being an idiot.
Rant aside, April is all work, work, work, so one of her main plotlines this week is about that. Her boss does scare her a little bit, though. Maybe I'm projecting my own fear. Anyway, the Bossman assigns her to a political campaign to write a profile on a candidate, Bruce Hendry, but also introduces her to the ruthless Raquel, a senior political writer.
I really hoped that these two wouldn't be at each other's throats, but there is literally a scene of them running to get an interview with the candidate. April's shortness of breath comes from her cancer, so Raquel gets ahead. Instead, April runs into Leo, the candidate's son. Instead of the preppy look he puts out on TV, dude's got a beard and a motorcycle and quite possibly a personality. He's played by Scott Michael Foster, aka Cappie from Greek, and if you aren't joining me in jumping up and down with joy, go marathon Greek right now. I'll probably still be jumping when you are finished with the entire series.
Let's shift focus to April's other love interest, Dominic. April and Dominic have another dinner date. We meet the show's liveliest and worst character with Graham, the neckbeard, uptight and awful roommate of Dominic. He makes her lasagna and compliments April on being so cool. He doesn't want the damsel-in-distress. He likes April because she is uncomplicated. Drama free.
The executives at ABC Family would like to beg to differ. April chugs her glass of wine faster than Olivia Pope, nee Alicia Florrick, as if to prove herself that she is not drama free. That is skill.
Raquel takes every initiative to "sabotage" April. April suggests writing about Leo Hendry, but is shot down because it crosses a line. However, the bossman encourages her to keep pitching. She fails to tell him he's sick.
Brenna is Campaigning for Most Dramatic Teenager of the Year
Let me again state that I was a teenager once. We all were/are. It happens. And in retrospect, we are all insufferable little brats. But is it just me or does Brenna seem to be the worst of us? Brenna begs April to take her back to that sketchy house party because she left her phone. It's her whole life, she says without a hint of self-awareness. April's pissed at Brenna for being a self-absorbed brat and denies this so-called life-saving.
Brenna fails to convince her mother her phone is not missing, but it's clearly in someone else's possession. Oops. Sarah -- who has ridiculous hair -- wants Brenna, as punishment for acting out, to get a job. That's not a ridiculous request, especially for someone who acts like an entitled brat. Side note: the Carvers must do pretty a-okay financially based on their sweet pad in Boston.
Brenna meets the man who has her phone held captive, a tattooed Kiernan. He's a cool, chill guy working at a tattoo parlor. He invites her to an art show. Oh, and guess what? They are hiring. Wonder where this is going. Brenna and her friend -- who I think would have made a more interesting Brenna, but to each her own -- go to the art show. Brenna is harrassed, Kiernan saves the day, and despite Dominic saying he doesn't like the damsel-in-distress, perhaps the show does.
And to get the storyline done, Sarah is upset to learn Brenna gets a job at a tattoo parlor, but gets over it because she's the cool mom. Or perhaps because this storyline was pretty weak. It'd be so much more interesting if Brenna went off the deep end because she couldn't deal with April's illness.
- I like the opening credits and song. They are nothing special, but sweetly show why April cares about everyone in her life so much.
- April looking in on sick children probably put her life in perspective. I think this scene is actually important for April in the long run.
- The grandma is a broad and she was on Wings! Which I'm told by my Baby Boomer parents is a good thing!
- Danny snooped in April's stuff to discover that the license plate/potential long-lost sister is named Natalie Ortiz. Danny has no qualms about personal space. I appreciate that.
- Beth is a delight in this episode. I was not feeling her random Austrailian-ness, but at least they tried to explain she's just a flake.
- April still hasn't told her family anything about her cancer. The show is moving at a snail's pace in this regard, but it's a bit of a thin premise not to.
That's it for this episode of Chasing Life.
What did you think? Love it? Hate it? Do you think the second episode did a good job of keeping up the premise and moving the show forward? Are you bothered by April's reaction to her cancer? Sound off below.
airs Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)