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TV Review: Is “Chasing Life” The Perfect Summer Show?

We better get the fact that Chasing Life is an ABC Family show out of the way now. Because despite what that immediately lends itself to, Chasing Life is kind of great.

Chasing Life, adapted from the Mexican telenovela Terminales, focuses on a young journalist (Italia Ricci) who receives news – from her estranged uncle – that she has cancer. The show is hardly 50/50 but it’s a lot of fun, and as someone that doesn’t watch a lot of dramatic television, it’s a refreshing change of pace.

It’s soapy and it’s silly, but Chasing Life is surprisingly kind of wonderful, too. The show introduces April before she realizes she has cancer, and that makes all the difference. Her illness isn’t a catalyst, but instead an aspect of her life – one that will most certainly get bigger – but in a way that so far, seems natural.

Adding to the story – of how cancer seeps into every aspect of your life, for better or for worse – are April’s immediate family. Back at home after the death of her father, April lives with her sister Brenna, at first infuriating as a ‘rebellious’ teenager who seems to be maturing with the news of her sister’s illness; her grandmother, who sadly mostly seems to be there for throwing out witticisms; and her widowed mother Sara, someone with a great professional life and a shambles of a personal one.

There are things to complain about within the show, sure, but Chasing Life doesn’t really seem to exist so as to be a critical hit. It’s just a fun, soapy show that takes on a serious issue with a surprising amount of depth. But it also has all of the best bits of every other great summer drama too, including a romantic triangle between April and her co-worker Dominic, and the son of the Governor that she is trying to write her break-out piece on, whom also has cancer, and enjoys pushing Aprils buttons (played by familiar face Scott Michael Foster, from Greek).

So the question: Is Chasing Life truly Summer’s best new show? I’m sure that it’s not. With Extant, The Strain and Masters of Sex’s second season all beginning to air, there’s certainly not a lack of quality television airing in these months. But sometimes you just need a palate cleanser, and for what Chasing Life is on the tin, when looking further than that, it’s pleasantly ambitious.

It’ll hook you, is what I’m trying to say.