'The Big C: Hereafter' Review: Goodbye, Cathy
'The Big C: Hereafter' Review: Goodbye, Cathy
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
The Big C, Showtime's cancer dramedy, ends its run starting Monday, April 29 at 10pm. The show's final four hour-long installments are a miniseries subtitled Hereafter, a fitting name for what these episodes represent.

This show may be considered a comedy, but it has always been deeply emotional, and it gets even more serious as The Big C nears its end. Without spoiling too much, anyone watching knows there's only one way for this show to end, and it doesn't involve aliens showing up to give humanity the cure for cancer.

The Big C: Hereafter picks up five months after the season 3 finale, where Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney) floated off into the sea with a mysterious man named Angel. How that all ended is one of the key moments of the final four episodes.

As we get back into the swing of things, each character has a clear goal. Cathy wants to live long enough to see her son, celebrating his Sweet 16, graduate high school. Her husband Paul is still off on his motivational speaking tour, which he seems to be using as an excuse to avoid dealing with his real life. And Andrea is off at college studying fashion design under guest professor Isaac Mizrahi (try not to think too hard about why the iconic designer would ever agree to teach for an entire semester in Minnesota).

Cathy also has a new therapist, played by Kathy Najimy, who is great at listening and guiding Cathy through the difficult process of dying. Because that's what's happening.

For the first three seasons of The Big C, there was always a bit of hope and optimism, but in the first episode of this final stretch, nearly every major character actually uses a form of the word "dying" to describe Cathy's condition. They may not like it, but they're all accepting that it's not a question of it, but when.

I watched all four episodes of The Big C: Hereafter in a single sitting and my eyes were welled up with tears the whole time. This is a deeply powerful, cathartic experience and while there are glimmers of humor, the heartwarming moments are fast and strong. There's one at the end of the third episode that is every bit as impactful as the moment at the end of season 1 when Cathy's son Adam discovered the storage locker full of presents she bought for all the future events she wouldn't be around for.

I lost my own mother to cancer when I was a teenage boy, so The Big C has always had a particularly poignant resonance with me. It's like taking a look back in time to the moments I had, or didn't get to have. My story is not unique, and that's the magic of this show. Nearly everyone has suffered the deadly tragedy of cancer on a personal level, and if you haven't, The Big C gets it so right that you'll feel like you have.

These final four episodes are exactly what I wanted from The Big C, a deeply personal farewell to a daring, brilliant series that found humor and strength in tragedy. So enjoy these final episodes of the Jamison family and take away the inspiring messages the show teaches.

What creator Darlene Hunt, who actually makes a guest appearance in the final two episodes, has accomplished with The Big C is nothing short of extraordinary. She put truth on screen and showed us a world we can all learn something from.

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(Image courtesy of Showtime)