Chasing Life premiered on ABC last night (10th June) and the Steve Miner-directed first episode of ABC Family's new comedy drama adaptation was delivered to the American small screen. Airing Tuesdays at 9/8c, Chasing Life is "a story about love, hope, determination and support," series lead Italia Ricci tells TVLine.
Italia Ricci Stars in 'Chasing Life'
"It's about my character, April, and how everyone around her deals with her diagnosis of cancer at 24 years old. Just when it looks like her life is falling into place, it starts to fall apart - but she decides not to let it."
Being a post-diagnosis cancer drama, Chasing Life was always going to be mentioned alongside AMC's gritty, hit, drug drama, Breaking Bad, although the cancer is the only thing the two shows share. This hasn't stopped critics from mentioning Vince Gilligan's award-winner though; almost always for worse.
"'Chasing Life' is based on a Spanish-language telenovela called "Terminales," and you can't say it isn't on trend," notes STL Today's Gail Pennington, adding "Cancer is the plot device du jour" before she reels off a list of modern shows and movies that prominently feature cancer.
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"The possibility of death raises stakes all around. What "Chasing Life" mainly raises, though, is eyebrows, for being so laughably bad," the critic derides, describing the unrealistic portrayal of April's lowly yet promising career at a newspaper.
"Chasing Life has all the staples that you'd expect from ABC Family: a pretty 20-something woman at its center, a non-traditional and multi-generational family under one roof, sloppy emotional heart, unnecessary melodramatic twists, hot guys, badass hot guys, relationship drama, and so on," says Flavor Wire.
More: Former ABC drama 'Cougar Town' to end after six seasons.
"Cancer-as-story-driver certainly feels like well-trod territory," says A.V Club's Carrie Raisler, adding "It's clear that Chasing Life wants to take its time, to tell small stories about a big problem, and to not solely be a "cancer story.""
"Italia Ricci does an admirable job" as April but "April is a frustrating character-a type A go-getter who then immediately abandons this defining personality trait when it comes to her health, [and] her family's strange and increasingly labyrinthine web of secrets, which she immediately adds to by refusing to tell anyone she is sick."
"I doubt Chasing Life is going to have April run a drug cartel or become a baddie nor will Chasing Life undertake the stakes of an entire drug organization, but we do feel the stakes of our lead April Carver...24, who is ready to take on Boston and the world. Until she gets cancer," summarises Emily E. Steck from Buddy TV.