Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I was recently offered the opportunity to preview a news series airing on ABC Family on June 10, 2014. Chasing Life is based on a Mexican novela called Terminales. Not a huge fan of novelas, I was going to skip this one, but, in the interest of our G-POP.net readers, I decided to check it out anyway.
Chasing Life stars Italia Ricci as April Carver, a young floating reporter for a Boston newspaper, hoping for a chance to be a columnist. Aprilís home life is almost as hectic as her work life. Having just lost her father to some as yet unexplained tragedy, Aprilís family has been having a hard time adjusting. Mother Sara (Mary Page Keller) is a child therapist who has been having trouble sleeping since the death of her husband. Sister Brenna (Haley Ramm) has decided that life is too short and so she should live it to the fullest, partying and cutting school in order to achieve this goal. Grandmother Emma (Rebecca Schull) seems to be the only well adjusted member of the family.
In the premiere episode, April sneaks into a charity blood drive in order to get an exclusive interview with a Boston Red Sox player who has been ducking the press ever since news of a drug scandal broke. Members of the press are barred from the event, but April has an ace in the hole - her Uncle George (Steven Weber), black sheep of the family, is a pediatric oncologist at the hospital where the blood drive is taking place. April gets the interview, but not until after she is outed as a member of the press and passes out at the event.
Things quickly begin going Aprilís way. She receives praise after landing the one interview even the senior sportswriter could not get. Her writing lands her a job as a political journalist at the newspaper she works for. Her love life is about to pick up as the gorgeous entertainment columnist, Dominic (Richard Broncatisano) expresses interest in her. Her mother has decided to start dating again and her sister professes to be party-free and focusing on school.
Then she gets a visit from her uncle. Worried about Aprilís health after passing out at the hospital, George has run some tests. The results are not good - April has Leukemia. Her new love interest happens upon a conversation between April and George and misinterprets their relationship. She gets a call from her sister who gets into some deep trouble after cutting Group Outreach for a heavy duty party. Efforts to talk about her newfound health issues with her family are seemingly thwarted at every turn. And visiting her fatherís grave reveals something about her family she never knew.
But one thing we know by the end of the premiere episode - April is not the kind to give up easily. Sheís not ready to throw in the towel just yet, not with so many other things going her way.
Now, remember, I said I donít really like novellas. Thatís because they are usually over dramatic and lack realistic storylines. Yet, something about Chasing Life is different. Sure, it could just be that Terminales has received an American drama makeover, but Chasing Life doesnít have that overdramatic, unbelievable feel to it. Italia Ricci is quite believable as a twenty-four year old reporter on the rise who receives a diagnosis that is life changing. Though facing some dark times ahead, Ricci manages to exude a spunky attitude, full of fight, something definitely needed for this character. It was nice to see Mary Page Keller again who I havenít really watched in anything since the comedy Duet aired in the late 80s. Sheís been acting a lot since then, but has only appeared in guest roles on shows that I regularly watch. The role of Aprilís mother promises to be a much more well-rounded acting experience for Keller. Also nice to see Rebecca Schull who I loved on WingsÖincidentally where you might know Steven Weber from, amongst other things.
The chemistry between April and Dominic is believable and makes a nice optimistic side story to that of a young woman fighting the diagnosis of cancer. And Aprilís relationship with her family is believable - good, but not perfect, just like any other family.
The question is, will Chasing Life be worth watching after the first episode. I think so. The show is well thought out, the writing is excellent and the drama is there, but not over the top. Scheduled to air its premiere at 9PM EST after Pretty Little Liars, Chasing Life has scored a perfect time slot, hitting the tweens and the young adults while still having some storylines for the thirty-somethings and forty-somethings. It will be interesting to see if the storyline stays believable as it moves forward or if it falls flat. The only way to know is to watch, so Iíll be checking out Chasing Life on ABC Family on Tuesdays at 9PM EST.