Monday, July 6, 2015

REVIEW: 'Chasing Life' - April Deals with an Uncertain Future by Living a Different Life in 'A View From the Ledge'

ABC Family's Chasing Life - Episode 2.01 "A View From the Ledge"

Newly engaged and unemployed, April tries to come to terms with her new reality and decides to no longer plan for her future but just enjoy the moment she is in. Natalie stumbles upon a secret manuscript of her father's.

April has always had a certain vision for her life. Even when she got sick, she was committed to maintaining her career as a journalist and her duties as a member of the Carver family. She wants to be there for the people that she cares about. She doesn't want this illness to take away from the important things in her life. It's devastating that her cancer came back stronger than before. The chemo didn't work this time which makes her immediate future all the more daunting and uncertain. And yet, she still wants to keep her life on track. She leaves the hospital after her month long stay with big plans for getting back into her profession while also planning her wedding to Leo as efficiently as possible.

But April can't control her life like that. This round of chemo didn't wipe her out as much as the previous one did. To her, that means that it did its job and got rid of the cancer because that was suppose to happen. In reality though, it didn't. That's so traumatizing for her. That's not something she ever planned on hearing when she went in for that first check-up. Life continues throwing her curveballs and it truly sinks in for her in that moment. This news throws so much of her plans out of the window. It opens an uncertain future for her in a way that she didn't suspect.

It's because of the chaos with her own health that she wants to exert control over her career again. She's happy to find a new job so quickly because it means she can keep working and regain that momentum. Her job as a journalist has been a huge definer for her since the series began. She is very passionate about it. She's the type of person who wants to write up pieces about the geopolitic climate and what people can do to stop those conflicts. That's the material she wants to be writing. And yet, she finds herself in a Buzzfeed-style job where her boss only wants her to come up with lists that are fun and engaging for the readers - but with no actual substance. It's a job she took for the sole purpose of having a job. It's not a good fit for her though.

April really did need to learn how to let go. She certainly has opened herself up to the unpredictability of life over the course of the series. But she is still a measured and reserved person. She is not like Natalie or Brenna who are able to throw caution to the wind in order to have a fun time. And now, she is declaring that she needs to start living her life differently. She has come to accept a life of adventure and excitement. She has been so focused on her career for so much of her life. She is now okay with it not being the dominate force driving her actions. She is happy with Leo and their engagement. Sure, she may have dreams about the successful career and the nice guy she could have had in another reality. But she is certain with the choices that she is making right now. She wants to marry Leo. She wants to press pause on her career. She wants to do whatever in order to enjoy life should she not be able to beat cancer. She wants to have those moments that will be remembered and embraced by all involved.

Sure, that personality shift is sudden. It's a design of the premiere where one pep talk from Leo and an encounter with another chemo patient gets April to change her entire outlook on life. The people around her have to accept that change as well. It's a bold and declarative moment when April tells Sara that she needs to start living her life differently. It's not an act of her giving up. It's a joyous moment where she no longer wants to live in fear of what may happen and just enjoy what is happening. It's a hugely emotional moment. Sara knows April so well. She knows that these spontaneous actions aren't typical of the daughter she has raised for over twenty years. She doesn't want to believe that it's the chemo talking either - like Leo's parents suspect. Sara wants to believe that April's sensible side will kick in soon enough so she can realize just how reckless and selfish she is being right now.

April doesn't see her life like that anymore though. She's simply doing what she thinks she needs to do in order to be happier with her life. That's ultimately all Sara wants for her daughter. Sara can try to analyze the situation and what is motivating April to do these things. But at the end of the day, she just needs to be supportive. She understands what April is trying to do with her life. It is different than before. But that doesn't make it bad or reckless. It's simply the direction April needs to go right now. Marrying Leo may not work in the end. Everyone has their suspicions and the show itself is once again propping up the love triangle with Dominic. But it's still what feels right for April at the moment. If it is a mistake, it's one that she will make willingly because she is opening herself up to the world and not playing it safe. And that will be rewarding no matter what the outcome is.

Some more thoughts:
  • "A View From the Ledge" was written by Patrick Sean Smith and directed by Steve Miner.
  • Are there just a lot of random people around Boston who are drumming to themselves? Or was that purely one big coincidence for April?
  • Of course, Emma would be a fan of The Bachelor. And of course, no one would want to talk about it with her at April and Leo's engagement party.
  • Brenna worrying about whether or not to learn what happens to the recipient of her bone marrow is a very compelling story. Her learning about filmmaking and being aggressively flirted with are not. They were just so introductory and didn't really add anything to the hour.
  • It seemed that Natalie had to be upset with Dominic and her relationship just because the show wanted to refocus on the initial love triangle with April, Leo and Dominic. For a relationship that had a solid foundation at the end of Season 1, that seemed like a potential mistake.
  • And lastly, there was the final reveal of Natalie discovering one of her father's manuscripts that basically details his life - living a life with two different families and plotting his own death. It should be interesting to see if she shares that with anyone. Or if the rest of the script actually mirrors what actually happened to him. Also naming it "Chasing Life" is a bit on-the-nose though.