Monday, 18 August 2014

Elsewhere: "Chasing Life"

In the US right now, there is a TV show that tells a story of an AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) patient’s daily life struggles. Titled, “Chasing Life”, the show began broadcast on ABC Family channel on 10 June 2014 and has received favourable reviews from Rotten Tomatoes where it garnered a strong 73% rating. The show is fast becoming a favourite, as at 18 August, its Facebook page has more than 470,000 likes.

The TV series is adapted from the Televisa’s Mexican television series, Terminales.

Featuring actress Italia Ricci who plays the cancer patient, April Carver is a cub reporter at The Boston Post who accidentally discovers she has AML from her estranged uncle, an oncologist, Dr. George Carver (Steven Weber).

At work, April is getting warmed up her newfound love - writing, and her contributions are beginning to get noticed by her boss and quite naturally, having to contend and cope with news of her cancer is the most excruciating experience. 

The most difficult part about facing her fear with the disease is disclosing her condition to her family and friends. However, her best friend, Beth Kingston (Aisha Dee) is the first to learn about it, and the last, of all persons, is her co-worker and boyfriend, Dominic Russo (Richard Brancatisano) who does not have the fortune of learning it from April herself but rather from a column she wrote a day before she checks in at the hospital for treatment. Imagine this happening in only episode 9 of a show that averages about 42 minutes in length per show.

At this time, Dominic is in Berlin on four-month assignment covering Daft Punk on tour.

April has a difficult time coming to terms with Leaukemia. Whether by accident or her own design, she tries postponing her biopsy, check-ups and treatment. In actual life, delaying the inevitable is only too common but in April’s case, whether she will be affected by her decision by seeking treatment late, remains to be seen.

April’s mother is the most distraught at the news of April’s cancer. She tries reading on the disease, and goes to support groups for comfort but is surprised at what she experiences.

Without revealing too much, the writing and acting is just great - the music is also incredible. One of the more touching scenes is at the end episode four where April finally decides to go for her biopsy but receives a surprise last-minute visit by her teenage sister, Brenna Carver (Haley Ramm). As the “procedure” is about to begin, April is asked to lie on one side and with a nice tune pulsating in the background, ““The Waves That Rolled You Under” by Young Summer, the scene becomes poignant, portraying the kind of fear a patient will probably experience under a similar situation.

For April, it seems as if she is starting a journey into the unknown…

However, determined to leave a legacy behind, and arguing that it will allow her have a normal life, April decides to have a baby with the assistance of a fertility facility although it is strongly objected by her mother.

The thing that really stands out about this show is that there’s a certain sense of realism about it. The writers don’t presume to tell viewers how to feel. They let the story evolve as organically as possible while still making it come across as compelling.

Still, Chasing Life is worth checking out. Viewers may be pleasantly surprised with just how refreshing the story is without being watered down to the point where it appears as nothing more than a walking cliché.

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