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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Chasing Life is an emotionally charged drama series that doesn't gloss over the fallout of the main character's struggle with her own mortality. The characters talk about death as it relates to April's situation and to the recent loss of her father. A rebellious teen escapes the pressures of her life by drinking and hanging out with a questionable crowd, which puts her in some dangerous situations from which she needs to be rescued by family members. Sex is a recurring topic of conversation and often includes crass references such as "booty call" and "spreading your legs," but physical encounters usually stop at kissing. Strong language such as "bitch" is rare. On the upside, this well-crafted series deals with serious issues with care and purpose, which yields good messages about the strength of the human spirit.
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What's the story?
After losing her father in a car accident and barely holding her family together, twentysomething April Carver (Italia Ricci) is finally taking a deep breath and embracing the possibilities of her future. She's gotten a big break at work, things are on the right track with her romantic interest, Dominic (Richard Brancatisano), and her widowed mother, Sara (Mary Page Keller), is moving past her grief. Then a chance encounter with her estranged uncle (Steven Weber) delivers news she never could have imagined: She has cancer. Suddenly her carefully laid plans threaten to crumble before her eyes as she wrestles with her own mortality. CHASING LIFE is the story of April's fight to recapture her bright future in the face of daunting odds.
Is it any good?
Adapted from a Spanish-language Mexican telenovela, Chasing Life adeptly tackles emotional issues such as family struggles, love, loss, and death. Ricci is superb in the role of April, a rising star in the news industry who refuses to give in to the unexpected hand she's dealt or to overburden her loved ones with her troubles. But she's no silent martyr either. She gives in to fear and a sense of unfairness from time to time, and those moments of raw emotion are what make her role so believable.
It's impossible to watch a story like this without imagining yourself in a similar real-life role, and that's the stuff that great entertainment -- and great discussions with your teens -- are made of. Chasing Life does an excellent job of keeping the content accessible by not overdramatizing what already are life-altering events. As April copes with her new reality, the fact that she does so with grace and determination and with the support of her family and friends bodes well for the show's messages about perseverance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about getting through life's hard times. Teens: What are some of your sources of strength when you're facing a difficult challenge? What activities help you cope with stress?
April struggles to put the past behind her, particularly when it comes to her relationship with her uncle. Why is forgiveness sometimes hard to give? What can be gained by reconciling past wrongs and moving forward?
What are some examples of the kinds of love that exist among the characters? How does our capacity to love change for different people in our lives? How do you deal with relationships that have a negative effect on you?
In what ways is alcohol used as an escape for one or more of the characters? What messages does this send about drinking? Is the element of its danger different for adults than it is for teens in the real world? Why, or why not?
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