The first season of acclaimed US drama The Big C arrives on DVD and Blu-ray this week. The 3-disc set includes all 13 episodes of the Showtime original drama, and a number of engaging extras, including interviews with various cast members, outtakes and deleted scenes.

The series follows Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney), a reserved suburban wife and mother whose recent melanoma diagnosis forces her to shake up her life and find hope, humor and the light side of a dark situation. She throws out her childish husband, Paul (Oliver Platt), mollycoddles her difficult son, Adam (Gabriel Basso) and strikes up a bizarre relationship with her misanthropic neighbour, Marlene (Phyllis Somerville).

The Big C features a stellar cast of intriguing and colourful characters, each feeling as necessary to the series and as capable as the other. Linney, in particular, delivers an assured performance that is effortlessly sympathetic, humorous and feels wholly authentic. She’s clearly worthy of her worldwide acclaim and recent Golden Globe nomination, going from strength to strength as the series progresses.

The supporting cast include Platt as Cathy’s immature husband; Basso as their rebellious, sexually frustrated and emotionally conflicted son; John Benjamin Hickey as Cathy’s eccentric, homeless brother, Sean; Gabourey Sidibe as Andrea, Cathy’s obese, coarsely comedic and candid student; and Somerville as Cathy’s reclusive, temperamental yet caring neighbour. Each feel necessary, three-dimensional and wonderfully vibrant foils and accomplices to Cathy’s reckless behaviour.

While The Big C may not have the large budget of shows on the bigger networks, it’s altogether smart, subversive, and entertaining. It perfectly suits Showtime’s explorative and adult-orientated programming, not due to nudity or coarse language, but because of the very serious and life-changing subject matter at its heart. Cathy’s unlikely friendship with Marlene, and her unexpectedly determined need to help Andrea lose weight, are highlights of the series, and deliver some of the biggest laughs and unforgettably bonkers scenarios.

At a narrow 13 episodes, this opening season only skims the surface of these characters’ lives, but admirably whets your appetite and leaves you thirsting for more. This is all achieved thanks to the sublime acting, hugely enjoyable sub plots and genuinely touching, believable writing.

Let’s hope the writers maintain the extraordinarily wacky, audacious and darkly comic nature that makes The Big C so incredibly invidiual, and don’t try to push it further and further in a way that’ll ruin its momentum – something that’s sadly happened to another of Showtime’s quirky dramas, Weeds.


Special Features:

  • Interviews with Laura Linney, Oliver Platt, Gabourey Sidibe and more.
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Featurette
  • Complex Characters