Tuesday, July 1, 2014

REVIEW: 'Chasing Life' - April Tries to Get an Exclusive Story & Then Goes in for Her Biopsy in 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead'

ABC Family's Chasing Life - Episode 1.04 "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead"

April finds it harder to juggle the increasing severity of her symptoms with her obligations at work and her attempts to be a supportive daughter and sister. After missing an important appointment, George urges April to get her priorities straight. April learns more about Leo Henrie, but he jumps to conclusions about her motives.

Leo Henrie really is a dick. It was mean of him to dangle the prospects of a good exclusive story in front of our leading woman only to then rip it away. And yet, from his point of view, she doesn't deserve anything from him. At first it appears as if she is stalking him and that's really uncalled for for a victim of cancer. After learning the truth, he is more sympathetic to her true motives. But he still doesn't owe her anything. He didn't have to invite her to the party. However, he does because he's the type of person who likes to have fun and not take life so seriously. You would think that having a brain tumor would change his disposition. But nope, he's still cracking jokes and just enjoying life.

And yet, I'm just so proud of the show for not going the predictable route of creating a love triangle between April and Dominic, her great boyfriend who doesn't know about her cancer, and Leo, the guy who does know. She worries when the two of them are in the same room together. But as of right now, her secret is safe and she doesn't have any kind of intimate connection with Leo. To her, he's the guy who broke a promise to her. And yes, that's sad even though it is exactly how this game is played cancer or no cancer.

I'm also really surprised that we're four episodes into Chasing Life's first season and we still don't really know anything about April's cancer other than it is leukemia. Progress is being made and we should get more details in next week's episode. However, more symptoms are popping up for her. She's tired and getting bruises that she just can't explain. She needs to start dealing with all of this. She needs to get her priorities straight. The same could be said of the show as well. Delaying the reveal to her family is such a weak story. It's building up the emotional impact of the moment so when it does come out it is much more powerful because we've known these people for a couple episodes now. It really is electric when April just lets the news loose in her fight with Brenna. That was such a great moment and further proof that there is no easy or good time to reveal her diagnosis. How April having cancer effects her family is the story I want Chasing Life to be telling. Right now, I simply don't care about what's happening in Brenna or Sara's personal lives. Their issues feel very trivial compared to the struggle that April is dealing with.

It's a hugely emotional moment for April and the audience when she finally does go in for that biopsy. She's all by herself and it is devastating to see her alone. And yet, that is also entirely because of her own choices. But then, Brenna walks into the room to be there for her big sister and it's the first time I've ever respected a decision that character has made. The secret can't be kept under wraps for too much longer and I can't wait to see what kind of emotional turmoil will result from her official diagnosis.

Some more thoughts:
  • "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" was written by Josh Senter and directed by Steve Miner.
  • Seriously, who cares about Brenna trying to blow off her history homework?
  • Clearly, neither of the actresses playing Brenna and Greer could actually play tennis since so much of the actual action was done in close ups.
  • Hey, it's Maksim Chmerkovskiy as Sara's tango teacher. He doesn't do much - or even talk at all. But he's a part of a good moment for Sara.
  • You could also sense that Sara knows something is off about her daughter but she resists the urge to snoop.
  • I kinda enjoyed there not being any kind of shocking soapy reveal at all during this episode. Yes, that aspect is a part of the show's DNA. But they don't have to go to it that often to drive story or conflict.