La Vie est Belle and Cancer Sucks

As often happens in your thirties, a lot of my favorite people live in different parts of the country and I don’t get to see them very often. Two such far-flung loved ones were on my mind this weekend as I sat down to watch a new show on ABC Family called Chasing Life.

One of those far away friends lives in California and makes his living as an actor. He was featured on the show, and admittedly my initial impetus for watching was simply to support him as his star continues to rise. The other far away friend lives in Tennessee, and her life has been completely upended by repeat sparring matches with cancer.

For starters, I need to thank M for being the reason I sat down to watch this show in the first place. Second, I need to long-distance-hug G. Because of her, I connected to this show in wholly unexpected ways.

Chasing Life is about a young woman who is blindsided by a diagnosis of leukemia at age twenty-four. The pilot episode introduces us to her and her career as an ambitious, newbie reporter, her newfound love interest, her BFF and her matriarchal family, and just barely, her cancer.

I’ve never watched a show on ABC Family before. The promos I’ve seen for that network often look somewhat cheesy, and I admittedly can be resistant when it comes to schmaltz. But I have zero regrets about the 45 minutes I spent with Chasing Life, and here’s why:

The Bechdel Test: Chasing Life passed right out of the gate with flying colors. The opening scenes were between the protagonist, April, and several men in her sphere (boss, uncle, interview subject – Go, M!), but within the first 12 minutes she’s unapologetically owning the brand of Feminist (which gave me more of a thrill than it probably should’ve in the 21st Century), and shortly thereafter, we’re introduced to her sister, mother, and grandmother, and they all – guess what! – have more to talk about than men. So not only has Chasing Life already won me over with its lady-centric awesomeness, but it’s clever and funny, too.

The world is not white (!): This is TV, so of course everyone has to be gorgeous, but I’m happy to say that everyone is not gorgeous and white. The show was adapted from a Mexican TV series, Terminales, so April and her family have a vague, not-totally-white vibe about them. Moreover, April’s coworker is Indian, her boss is black, her bestie is black (and… Australian? …British? had trouble pinning down the accent), and these characters are all presented without hubbub or commentary. It’s more along the lines of ‘there are people in this story who happen to be people of color’, or as I like to call it, life.

Chasing-Life-620x413

The Carver Family – Chasing Life

Schmaltz is not king: Sure, there was a decent amount of schmaltz. The younger sister is Troubled and winds up Wasted at a Party because of a Guy Who Is Bad For Her. The grandma is Feisty, the mom is a bit Flighty, and the boss is Stern and Demanding. But the schmaltz was outdone by the quality of the writing, the engaging nature of the characters, and an impressively unexpected twist at the end (hint: cancer isn’t the only curveball April will have to navigate).

Women at the helm: Lastly, I learned from M that there are lady writers at the helm of this show, and I learned from the interwebs that these lady writers, Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz, are also Executive Producers. If you’ve been with us even a short time, you know that Beauty Coup is the champion of quality programming created by women. So to sum up, Chasing Life is winning on many fronts.

Where it hit me in my heart muscle is of course in how much it made me think about G. I don’t know what lies ahead for fictional April and her fictional leukemia, but for several years now I’ve watched the all too real journey of G vs. breast cancer.

If you know someone with cancer, then I don’t need to say any more. If you don’t, take a moment to be thoroughly grateful for that blessing. Then spend some time with G over at her blog, My Left Tit. Witnessing the actual experiences of an actual person dealing with actual cancer is as sobering as it gets. It is also a fire-fueling, rabble-rousing, eye-opener. Even while they live, cancer can rob people of their lives. If Chasing Life gives even a glimpse of that, it will be doing a service to those living with cancer by illuminating the truth of their realities.

***

Chasing Life airs on ABC Family starting June 10th. You can watch the pilot episode early by downloading the ABC Family app.

 

 

Versatile Real Living Beauty!

Sometimes S and I are distracted by Life. Things happen – happy things, sad things, exciting things and traumatic things – and we are pulled away from the world of blogging. Hence, our neglect in thanking Jennie Saia from Tip of My Tongue for awarding RLB with this nifty honor! She has christened us as:

versatile-bloggerVersatile Bloggers!

Isn’t that sweet?? We here at RLB do try to cover a multitude of topics, even if they are all rooted in the same idea. Turns out that promoting confidence in women by exploring how we’re represented in the media does inspire quite a variety of subject matter.

So, here are The Rules for this award:

1. Make a post about the award.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself or your blog.
3. Link to 15 other blogs (ideally with less than 200 followers) that you enjoy and that haven’t gotten the award before (if they have, it’s usually posted in their blog side bar).
Seven Random Facts
Since S and I co-author this blog, we shall share seven random facts about the Collective Us:
  1. When we lived in the same city (505 Represent!), we religiously watched Mad Men every Sunday while E’s husband made us dinner, and then we would dissect every moment over delicious grub. We miss those Sundays.
  2. E once used a flawless “Penelope Cruz” accent in a play that S wrote.
  3. We wrote a TV pilot! And it doesn’t suck!
  4. One of the really sad things about our friendship is that we don’t wear the same shoe size.
  5. A nine-year age difference has only enhanced said friendship. E mainly attributes this to S being the most grown up 25-year-old ever. She is so with it, sometimes E feels juvenile next to her.
  6. …except when S says “wh00t”. E does not get “wh00t”.
  7. As far as barricade boys go, E is on team Goldilocks and S is on team Freckle.
Les-Miz
Fifteen Blogs
Here are the blogs that we would like to acknowledge, and the definition of ‘versatile’ fluctuates with each. Por ejemplo, some of them blog about a variety of foods they like to cook and consume, some of them cover a plethora of fashion topics, and some of them challenge the notion of diversity in daily life. Some of them just blog about a lot of different things. Please take some moments to enjoy the following:

Cheap Wine and Panty Lines

My Left Tit

Nine Thirty to Five

Condorcat

Foodtuitive

Classic Rants

Sweetie and the Kitchen

White Tribal Chief

Living la Vida Tractor Blog

She Travels

and we went

Daydreaming since 1985

(it looks like these last two have slightly more than 200 followers, but the idea of clever, entertaining husband and wife bloggers was too adorable to resist):

Fish & Bicycles

Reality Sandwiches

Confession time: Our final nominee is actually a blog that we contribute to. But! Other people contribute to it, too. And! It’s a brand new, clever and campy turning of the tables on male celebrities, giving them a dose of the body conscious wringer that female celebs are put through on an all-too-regular basis. So, in the name of shameless self-promotion, give a visit to:

Hollywood Meat

Well, there you have it. We hope you enjoy these blogs, as we do.