Review: Chasing Life

Recently I started watching a tv series called “Chasing Life.” It held my attention through a couple of episodes, so I continued watching. It’s about a twenty-four year old journalist, just getting started in life. She shows great promise and is quickly promoted from floater to staff writer.

Season one, staring Italia Ricci, Mary Page Keller, Haley Ramm, and Rebecca Schull, produced and developed by Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz is now available on Netflix.

There’s a snag to our Journalist’s budding career as there always is in life. Our main protagonist, April Carver, learns she has leukemia in the first episode, setting the stage for some deep meaning drama in later chapters. Setting up a series with this premise provides the chance to show how deadly leukemia is, and how it is attacked and sometimes defeated by the best minds and most advanced medicine the second decade of the 21st century has to offer. Those of us who have never experienced this with anyone close might even learn something about the disease and its effects.

Like a train hitting a ten foot thick concrete wall, April is jarred into the real facts of life and death, something she, or any of us never bargain for, especially in our twenty somethings when life is about the future, not about ending it. The same day she gets her first byline, snags the guy she has secretly liked for months and is literally on top of the world she finds out she might also be dying.

I really wanted to like this show, it had so much potential with a meaty plot line, an appealing main character, and the whole idea of getting an inside view of the world of cancer, its treatments, victims, successes, failures and everything that goes into that mix, was something that pique my curiosity—when usually I find network television so boring.

It could have been interesting. But, ABC Family, screwed it up with an overburdened story line, the pushing of a political agenda where none is needed, unrealistic characters, all complicated by an embarrassing dialogue and bad direction.

Yes, something is wrong with the flow of this production. The actors hesitate with their lines, like they are winging it, or coming to the set unprepared, but it’s more than that. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was strangely familiar with how they would look around, unnaturally looking away from the conversation like they were glancing at cue cards just beyond the camera. And, then it hit me, soap operas! Yea, that’s it. That’s where I have seen television like this before, in soap operas.

If I was ABC I would be ashamed.

Some of the character development doesn’t work either. April’s grandmother for instance, who lives with the family is nothing short of annoying. I think they were trying to create a wisecracking, cool, freewheeling elderly woman whose endearing side would be her devoted matriarchal contribution to the family but it just didn’t work. Her asinine comments helped nothing in April’s life and death situation, even though April, her sister and her mother looked on the old lady as wise and learned. I was just not sold. It would have been better If she would just shut up.

There was also the pushing of the gay agenda. No big surprise there, as most TV shows today have or support gay characters. If you are not in Hollywood, work or live in it, and you are not gay you’ve got to be feeling at this point like they are shoving their lifestyle down your throats. It’s totalitarian in nature, and completely fascist in its presentation.

“Chasing life” is no exception. April’s teenage sister, sixteen and discovering her sexuality becomes involved with an out of the closet lesbian. They form an on again off again relationship which goes through tribulations that of course include their respective families.

The problem with the relationship is that upon learning of Brenna’s exploration of the lesbian lifestyle, her mom, her sister, the one battling cancer and her grandmother, who already has nothing redeemable to offer, show not even the slightest concern that April has made such a huge move that might very well change the course of her life.

And, they make a point of showing April’s girlfriend’s parents citing the same non concern for their daughter’s choice in life, indicating complete support on that scale.

Here’s the thing. This revelation came at a time when the families were arguing over the girls’ other activities, ditching school, getting drunk, disappearing without reporting in, getting tattoos, and generally worrying their parents to no end, like any other healthy red blooded teens would do. All are typical young people issues that contribute to the generational divide between parents and teenagers. Parents and teenagers go through that dance in every generation, parents worry, teens can’t understand thinking they know everything.

But being gay, that apparently poses no problems for these parents who seem to be fairly strict on every other issue governing their children’s lives. The fact that their children have made a decision which could possibly make the rest of their lives harder is at least worthy of some parent child discussion. It doesn’t make any sense.

And, the show’s producers spend a lot of time developing and showcasing this teenage gay relationship. It’s so profoundly displayed it almost overshadows the main premise which is April’s disease and how to cope with it. It is such a clumsily unprofessional stream that it’s almost embarrassing to watch.

Another bit of politics thrown into this mix is the rich and poor class warfare issue made popular by the Obama presidency. It’s not as prevalent as the gay agenda, but it is certainly brought up at the most awkward of times. Mentioned several times by a number of recurring and starring characters during the course of the season, the Obama mantra, rich people always bad, poor people always good.

Greer’s parents oppose her and Brenna’s relationship not because of the trouble they have gotten into together bordering on criminal activity, but because Greer’s parents don’t think that April is good enough because of her financial status. April’s status is upper middle class Bostonian which is up there, live in a nice brownstone, you can tell they are well off. But, not like Greer’s family. They are upper class, with homes in Nantucket and probably all over New England. Clearly showing Greer’s family in the top one percent, the one percenters, enemies of the American dream don’t you know. It’s just so blatantly phony.

What in the Hell are they trying to do?

Why ABC family has decided to use their programming as a bully pulpit for their politics shows no integrity and is a desperate move to counter the wave of center right conservative thinking which has spread its influence over America through Fox News, talk radio and the free internet that the Left just can’t control.

If they want to make counter statements with a punch go into the documentary filming business, and make dedicated films to show their political slants. Don’t take a perfectly acceptable and interesting premise and ruin it by bringing in every left wing caricature that exists in the liberal agenda.
Just tell the damn story.

I wish I could recommend this but I can’t. They really missed a perfect opportunity to get into a subject that is not covered nearly enough in TV drama. It’s been renewed for a second season so I guess the producers are not done preaching to us about how they want us to think.

O’brother! Get me off of this train.

Come to my website for more reviews, historical perspectives, commentary on the Middle East, and the history of Israel at hartnation.com

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photo at top courtesy of  www.t411.io

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