The season finale of the new ABC Family series Chasing Life — about a 24-year-old aspiring journalist facing leukemia — will focus on April (Italia Ricci)’s “7 days in chemo and all that goes with that,” executive producer Patrick Sean Smith revealed at today’s TCA. Smith appeared on today’s panel with fellow EPs Joni Lefkowitz and Susanna Fogel and cast members Ricci, Haley Ramm, Steven Weber and Mary Page Keller.
The 6th episode of the first-season drama (which made its debut June 10) airs tonight. Smith said that production has completed on episode 21. The producer noted that the series is different from most fictional stories about cancer because it does not start with treatment but rather the many emotions and decisions facing the character leading up to treatment.
Smith said that ABC Family has encouraged producers to face the harsher realities of the disease or treatment. He said Lefkowitz and Fogel pitched a scene where April is with her boyfriend and ends up having to spit blood in the sink. Smith told them ABC Family would never go for it but the network’s response was positive.”They don’t want to shy away from how ugly it can be,” Smith said.
As expected, Smith was asked whether the success of the movie The Fault In Our Stars about young people facing cancer, or Fox’s upcoming Red Band Society (about young hospital patients) has inspired the show.
Smith joked that he was “not familiar” with The Fault In Our Stars. He added that ABC Family shot the Chasing Life pilot in 2012 and has wanted to do such a series “for awhile”.
The Fault In Our Stars, Smith said, made it “feel a little bit less scary to go to that place. ” He added that “I think we’re all fascinated by the end, and death,” adding that millenials “like to talk about things that make grownups uncomfortable”. This realistic story, he said, gives young viewers a chance to look at death “organically … without a zombie apocalypse”.