CBC

This Life closes out stellar first season

When I first tuned to This Life, I imagined a series much like a homegrown version of The Big C. Natalie Lawson would find out her cancer was back and then make a Bucket List of items she’d plow through as tumours ravaged her body. It would be entertaining, I thought, but not groundbreaking in the least.

How wrong I was. Not only was This Life totally different from what I’d assumed, but it’s held me in thrall every week. And while Natalie’s journey has certainly been front and centre every week, This Life has been as much about the supporting characters as it has about its lead. As I’d hoped/expected, Natalie decided to join the drug trial in the belief the cocktail she’ll take will perform better than what she’s currently on. By announcing her decision to Romy and Emma over cupcakes on the front steps, Natalie was showing her conviction and including the girls in her all-important next steps. This wasn’t exactly closure in Natalie’s tale, but it was a satisfying conclusion.

Also satisfying as heck? Emma crossing the finish line of her first triathlon. She didn’t come in last, and her whole family (save Caleb) was there to embrace Emma at the end.

Aside from that, the rest of the Lawson clan are still battling. And, frankly, that’s OK with me. There are too many series that spend time neatly wrapping up storylines for the end of a season, and I respect showrunner Joseph Kay for not doing it. Instead, everyone has balls in the air and are fallible. Maggie wants to take over as the kids’ legal guardian, but Natalie fears her sister will become bored of that task and want to move on. David refuses to sign off on having the kids become anyone’s responsibility, so there’s no closure there. Oliver is adapting to life back in Montreal and is plotting a business deal (which I’m sure is an art gallery) and Romy seems to be responding to Natalie’s honesty. (Her “It all just looks broken to me,” comment at the hospital broke my heart.)

Meanwhile, Matthew—who was so strong at the beginning of the season—has suffered a major fall from grace. The dude who appeared to be the most stable of the Lawson brood aside from Natalie saw his world crumble after Julian’s existence was brought to light. Any chance of saving his marriage was blown to smithereens, and I can’t imagine there’s an easy way back from this.

Again, that’s OK. Life isn’t easy, and I like and admire television shows that portray that in a realistic manner. Like This Life has done all season.

What did you think of Season 1 of This Life? Comment below.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
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8 thoughts on “This Life closes out stellar first season”

  1. Is the CBC paying for this site? The show was painfully boring and poorly produced. Our standards for television are higher now, and a show with stylistic sensibilities in line with early 90s television is not acceptable or even watchable. This Life is abysmal, nobody watched it, the opening scene is offensive to anyone who’s actually experienced illness, and it should never come back.

  2. Admittedly, I haven’t yet started watching either This Life or Romeo Section. They’ve built up the episodes on my Dvr and I’ll binge-watch them eventually. I just haven’t had a lot of time these last few months to watch a lot of TV. I’ve kept up with maybe 10 shows this fall and others I just binge-watch when I get to them. I actually didn’t even see the second season of Bitten until last week.

  3. I disagree with Tim.

    I live with illness. Both parents died of cancer, both were rare complicated cancers, one involved a clinical trial. I have a rare illness classified same as cancer, open to many many clinical trials, of which I’ve had to decide whether to participate.

    My siblings were five in total (similar to this show) and as dysfunctional (more probably) as portrayed in this series.

    This is very real and done very well. It’s not easy to have a show about cancer or life and death issues involving kids, adults, families, lives going on at the same time, what it does to everyone. This show does it all very well. Maybe not perfect but pretty close from my experience.

    And if you’re not interested in cancer or illness and prefer a good drama that has a nice balance of life, comedy, drama, sadness, ease, with good acting, watch it. The cancer angle is light in the first season and so many other stories in life are handled well, very interesting modern day life stories both for the kids and the adults.

    Tim, I hope 2016 is happier for you. My sympathies to you.

  4. My wife and I are very much enjoying this series. A very refreshing take on a non-vanilla family. I lhope we get a season 2.

  5. I, too, thought this would be some retooling of ‘The Big C’ but what a surprise to find it is not. I was pulled into the entire family dynamic from the very beginning. Every one of them have their own story and, as in life, none are ever completely over. Life is lived more like an evolution, a journey from one issue leading into another; never is it choppy and episodic like so many other series on television at the moment. I binge watched this and am looking forward to season 2 on through to what must be the bitter end, and maybe beyond to see Natalie’s legacy.

  6. One of the best shows I’ve seen in years. So very, very impressed with the acting and the fine writing. I hope this show has many many seasons…

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