• Network: Showtime
  • Series Premiere Date: Aug 16, 2010
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4
Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 27
  2. Negative: 1 out of 27
  1. 100
    The show is cluttered with cutesy sidekicks, including Gabourey Sidibe as a student and John Benjamin Hickey as Cathy's homeless brother. But Linney's a big deal. [30 Aug 2010, p.37]
  2. 88
    It's unclear how many more seasons Cathy will survive, and how much humor can be mined from her pain. The visuals just might stay with you, though, as long as you live.
  3. 80
    Cathy's modest conception of throwing caution to the winds mirrors the strengths of The Big C, which is affecting precisely because of its refusal to assume epic proportions.
  4. The Big C works because most of the writing is strong and believable, and so is Ms. Linney, who rarely sounds a false note and here has perfect pitch.
  5. Making, and enjoying, a commitment to watch Showtime's new dramedy The Big C requires a deliberate decision to ignore nagging questions. Such as: Why are so many of the TV and cinematic cancer stories of the past few decades about women? And in an era when more and more of us know someone with cancer, or have experienced it directly, does that mean that we are now ready to embrace the subject as entertainment? Dwell too long on those questions, and what is good about The Big C may pass you by.
  6. 80
    Buoyed by scalpel-sharp writing and even keener performances, The Big C (created by comedian and sitcom writer Darlene Hunt) walks a fine line of having it both ways. It's for people who are repelled by the warm-fuzzy, disease-o'-the-week dramas of cable television.
  7. 80
    Linney and this role were made for each other. There are a few problems with The Big C. Occasionally, the tone veers off course into forced comic absurdity. But my cavils are irrelevant in the face of Linney's extraordinary work.
  8. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    80
    Some elements are so Showtime-comedy-like (the eccentric teen child, e.g.) as to seem a little repetitive. But the show depends above all on Laura Linney's performance, and so far it's entrancing.
  9. There's no doubt that Linney is radiant in her role. She carries The Big C past many of its implausibilities and irritations.
  10. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    70
    The show is less profound and novel than it seems to think it is. But the performances are strong enough that I want to stick around for Cathy Jamison's final journey, even if the path feels particularly well-trod.
  11. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    70
    Though she isn't quite a credible character, she's a thoroughly fun one, for which much credit is due to the actress's steady subtlety and elastic wit.
  12. Such soft areas, and a feeling of forced quirkiness, keep Big C from being a Class A series. Still, it's a show that, like Cathy, almost certainly will find its footing as time goes on and, like terminal illness, undoubtedly will provide a few surprises before the end.
  13. I'm not sure how many belly laughs Linney will be able to wring from The Big C, but I can't imagine a more perfect mouthpiece for a woman who's literally dying to be heard.
  14. The Big C does not arrive with as sturdy a foundation as "Nurse Jackie," an unusually well-developed show from the get-go, but Ms. Linney completely inhabits a role that's recognizable as a woman who is strong and unusually selfless--at least until her diagnosis.
  15. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    70
    The Big C is tonally all over the place, to the point where a terminal illness almost seems a relief. Linney has her best moments as she tries to reform an overweight student (Gabourey Sidibe, way sparklier than in Precious) and befriends a cranky neighbor widow (scene-stealer Phyllis Somerville).
  16. Though Linney can't be anything but amazing, The Big C feels like a more or less competent assemblage of elements we've seen before on various Showtime "comedies."
  17. Linney, a terrific actress, anchors this cast nicely. We like them all, which is critical and helps us past the fact that Linney's wild-child moments break little new ground. Neither does the message The Big C ultimately delivers, which doesn't mean it's a bad one.
  18. It's possible The Big C will get better, even if (maybe especially if) Cathy never does. And if it takes two seasons to become a great sitcom about dying? That might be worth the wait.
  19. 60
    In general, there's a pat, familiar quirkiness to The Big C that keeps you at a remove from it, and too many easy appeals to your emotions.... Still, with Linney at the heart of The Big C, there's reason to think that the series will improve.
  20. In the tradition of "The Day After" and "My So-Called Life" comes The Big C, an important show premiering Monday that's not necessarily a great show.
  21. Linney, who also serves as executive producer, is luminous as always. But the first three episodes fall into a predictable pattern of Cathy confronting someone and dropping cryptic comments about her diagnosis.
  22. 50
    More often, the show is a show: the camera cranes out to show Cathy's loneliness, the half-hour closes with a bittersweet pop song or the point is made too obviously ("Cancer's not a passport to a better life, cancer's the reason I'm not gonna have a life"). Still, the show does illustrate a useful idea, that what you think is "normal" is only that, what you think.
  23. It tries very hard not to take the expected path. Too hard, unfortunately. So determined are Hunt, executive producer/showrunner Jenny Bicks and Linney that The Big C be unsentimental that they jam early episodes with so many over-blown characters and wacky antics that it's impossible to attach meaning to any of them.
  24. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    50
    The Big C gets an "E" for admirable effort but still feels like a squandered opportunity. Given the chance to explore what truly matters in life, the show ultimately provides little more than a showcase for a terrific actress, while treating death like the next slightly zany frontier.
  25. 50
    I really want to love Linney in this role, because she's a great actress and she does pull off about half of her scenes in The Big C. But there's just something leaden and unnatural about the way her role is written and performed, as if someone is standing on the sidelines yelling "Smiles, everyone! Smiles!" the whole time.
  26. 50
    Underneath all the excess and that premium-cable drive to be more-clever-and-shocking-than-thou, there is a core of truth in the story of a mother desperate to reconnect with--and actually raise--her son before she dies. Give us that show, and we might be willing to accept the wacky-but-wise neighbor and the tough fat girl with the soft heart. You brought a great actor to TV, Big C. Use her or lose her.
  27. 25
    In The Big C, cancer is simply an excuse to sell the vicarious thrill of on-screen narcissism.
User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 64 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 15
  2. Negative: 3 out of 15
  1. Oct 2, 2011
    0
    A weak show. It has no potential. The first season was very poorly written and didn't really establish a function-able storyline which wasA weak show. It has no potential. The first season was very poorly written and didn't really establish a function-able storyline which was evident by the erratic changes every week. Laura Linney, "the greatest actress of this decade," is failing that false title dearly and has plummeted to the B-list by taking part in this show. Full Review »
  2. Apr 29, 2012
    4
    Excellent acting from all actors except for Cynthia Nixon, who is just re-enacting the exact character she played in Sex in the City, (in factExcellent acting from all actors except for Cynthia Nixon, who is just re-enacting the exact character she played in Sex in the City, (in fact I believe her lines are even borrowed from SIC). Admittedly there are some amazing lines delivered in very genuine way. But the acting and above average lines are where the show has decided to restrict itself to. The Full Review »
  3. Dec 29, 2011
    10
    Witty, thoughtful, sad, charming, heartwrenching, dramatic, enticing. This show has everything. Even the couple of subpar episodes areWitty, thoughtful, sad, charming, heartwrenching, dramatic, enticing. This show has everything. Even the couple of subpar episodes are elevated by Linney's performance. YES, this show makes me laugh - A LOT. To people who say it's not funny are obviously letting the dramatic moments overshadow everything else - it's a dark comedy, in the same vein as Weeds. Weeds is another show I love but it has been less funny in the past seasons - doesn't mean its still not a dark comedy. Full Review »