I wanted to give a big thanks to Darlene Hunt, creator and writer of “The Big C” who took some time out of her busy schedule to chat about her show and the upcoming season on Showtime. The new season starts tonight, June 27th, so don’t forget to watch!
I’m excited for the new season to start, especially from what I saw at the end of first season and with the direction that the show is heading. The great thing I noticed about the first season was how organic and natural the transition was from Cathy’s isolation and then the integration back into her marriage and back into reality, almost towards the end. Was there a challenge in that at all for the writers and yourself? If so, could you tell me a little bit about that?
I appreciate that. We’ve been thematically working with the stages of grief and Season 1 was denial. Cathy was keeping her cancer a secret at the beginning and as she told people, those relationships changed. Telling people meant she had to deal with their reactions and also that she had to really face the truth herself. I think she was surprised and comforted by their support in the end. And embracing treatment made her feel empowered. It was a fun journey to map out.
Despite its serious subject matter, the show manages to have a sense of humor; does this get difficult at times to balance that thin line of humor and tragedy?
Recently I was on set watching a scene being shot and I turned to our producing director, Michael Engler, and said “Oh, my God! There are no jokes in this scene!” But we quickly agreed that a big joke would ruin the point of the scene. So I went through the rest of the show in my head to remind myself where the humor was and then I think I had a candy bar and then I felt better. The point is, we’re not afraid to go to dark places, but then we try to balance it out. The tone of the show is truly the most important thing about it. If I had pitched a show about a woman with cancer and said, “And I promise you, it’s going to be sad,” I don’t think I would have gotten very far.
Working with such a serious subject matter, what kind of response have you had since you started the show?
Well, my mom can’t stop raving about it, so that’s good, right? In general, I’ve gotten primarily positive feedback. Recently a guy came up to me and shared how much the show meant to his mother who was living with cancer. That kind of feedback overwhelms and humbles me. It challenges me, too, to not only make Cathy a character people can relate to and root for but to continue to create characters that mean something to people in a real way.
I loved Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney’s chemistry in the first season, so it was great to see that she’ll be sticking around. Was that always the intention or was it something that seemed natural after you saw how well they played off of each other?
I think we surprised ourselves a little bit with the decision to have her get pregnant but it just seemed…um…pregnant with possibilities. And that’s when we knew we wanted to see more of her. In season 2 we explore how someone who is planning to bring a new life into the world butts against someone who might be making their exit from it sooner than later.
Can we expect any other new additions to the cast this season?
Yes, Alan Alda (as an oncologist) and Hugh Dancy (as a fellow cancer patient) play recurring roles. We enjoy bringing people on for long stints. Hugh is in 7 of our 13 episodes and really became a part of the family this season.
Any sneak previews or hints you can give me about the Season Two?
Just that Cathy’s relationships will look and feel different this year. And I can think of a few surprising moments but I’m scared to talk about them. I mean how do you talk about a surprise just a little bit?
“The Big C” Second Season premieres tonight, June 27th on Showtime.