It’s been a few weeks since we aired the season finale of This Life and finally, the firework smoke has settled. In light of it, I hope you’ll allow me and some of the viewers of This Life one final crack at summing up all the feels. This season, once again, I found myself falling for Christian Clermont’s intimate but accessible score. I still can’t get over the serendipity of how Jude the cat hopped into Natalie’s lap in “Stay Positive”. More than anything, I loved that I could flip on the TV (or laptop in my case) and see the Lawsons somehow pull together in the face of impossible odds week after week. As 2016 grew more divisive by the day, it was the familial comforts of This Life that, in ways big and small, helped me through these issues now surrounding us all. Writing to you, our viewers, wasn’t too bad either.
Over the course of the second season, we’ve been asking viewers like you “why I love This Life?” Here are some excerpts of what we heard back:
“I fell in love with This Life when I first watched the trailer from CBC’s UpFronts back in June of 2015. I absolutely loved the premise of a show exploring the life of a cancer-stricken woman who had some tough decisions to make. A friend very close to me was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer around that time, so the storyline was definitely one that hit home. After every episode, I felt genuinely connected to each and every character. [...] There were times that I’d laugh so loud that I choked on coffee or cried so hard that my parents thought I was going insane. Every character has their own flaws in their unique way, and I think that’s what makes them so damn lovable.”
-Rachel Wong (Markham, ON)
“Most of my favourite TV requires me to really suspend my disbelief. I'm drawn to subject matter that's as far from my own life as possible -- dragons, big-shot politicians, wanted criminals, that sort of thing -- but This Life had me hooked from the start. Its proximity to my own life actually drew me in. I lost my mom to cancer in my first year of high school. I see so much of her in Natalie - her resolve, her love. But if anything, Natalie's cancer is a backdrop. In the foreground of the show, it's little truths about family that really stick with me. How complex family dynamics are, how tragedy doesn't put the lesser struggles of each other's lives on hold, and how, though our support will be flawed, family will nonetheless always be there to offer it to each other. So though I would appreciate it if Romy could get a dragon next season, this series will always hold a special place in my heart.”
-Elena Hudgins Lyle (Toronto, ON)
“I love This Life because it is so honest. The show explores a real family dynamic from various perspectives; all having to come to terms with the most heartbreaking and life changing circumstances. Watching the family fall apart and then come back together in the moments when it is most needed is uplifting and refreshing to see on television. This makes me happy to think about the love and support from my own family. I also love that the show is filmed in Montreal and that the city is embraced in the show. As an Anglophone Montrealer I feel a certain connection to the characters and their relationship to the city. Seeing a parent have to deal with this kind of life event with her children is both upsetting and heartwarming at the same time. That connection between Natalie and her children is my favourite part of the show.”
-Jessica Camps-Cooke (Montreal, QC)
“I love This Life because it is one of the most honest representations of family I've seen on television. The characters are so real. It really gives you something to grab onto and follow. I also love the show because my son is on it! [laughs]”
-Robert Wootherspoon (Toronto, ON)
“Even though it’s exploring a difficult subject like cancer, I find this series to be magnificent. It’s filled with emotion, humanity, compassion and love. I’ve seen [Natalie’s] fight first hand with my mother who slowly passed away from cancer over the course of a year. I was with her every moment up until her final day. Regardless of the heavy treatments she underwent, she lived every moment to the fullest. This is why this series hit so close to home -- it reminds me of her.”
-Sandra Marchand (Montpellier, France)
“I moved away from Montreal, my hometown, almost three years ago -- the same year my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. For the first time we were living apart and right off the bat she had to deal with doctor's appointments, daily treatments, side effects, and an uncertain future, and all I could do was text her cute photos from my apartment far away. My mom is healthy now, thankfully, and now we chat every week about This Life - it's helped me understand a little bit of what she went through and it sparks new conversations between us that we may never have otherwise had excuses to bring up. I love watching This Life because it feels, for an hour every week, like being a little bit closer to home.”
-Anna Frey (Toronto, ON)
“Life is messy and we don’t always have all the answers. Every Sunday I sit on my couch with my This Life survival kit (booze and chocolate) and watch a family trying to navigate the many ups and downs that affect all of us. As much as I love escaping the day to day real life issues, it’s refreshing to see people on television struggling with the same issues I’ve struggled with. Every episode I laugh and cry and cry some more but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This Life is more than just a television show. It’s almost like a mini therapy session. [...] The community the fans have created on social media is unbelievable. Live tweeting with this fandom, the writers, and the actors is amazing. Here’s hoping we get to do it for many more years to come.”
-Erin Steinberg (Montreal, QC)
"This Life...our life, a friend's life, a neighbour's life. It's strong emotion, empathy, realism and it makes us think and reflect. It makes for conversation through commentary on social media. The characters are people we can identify with, who at one time in our lives we have assisted in financial matters, listened without judgement to their personal health struggles and opened ourselves up to [...].”
-Nancy Anne Johnson (Peterborough, ON)
“Ever since I started watching This Life, the show has allowed me to be more mindful and provided a sense of closure for myself to the similar battles that the characters from the show had to face. I too am battling with some identity crises, whether it is trying to discover with whom, where and how I fit in society, dealing with mental health or if it’s with my own sexual orientation. I also lost two of my closest family members to cancer that were not treatable at (the time of) diagnosis and to this day I still find it hard to accept that they are gone. But by watching the show and seeing how much I relate to the characters, it allows me to learn how to better cope with my battles and to always see the good in my struggles no matter how hard I fight or how the battle will conclude.”
-Maxime Ianniciello (Bois des Filion, QC)
“What I love about this show is the authentic and raw emotion. There are moments when I think all those different calamities cannot possibly happen in one family at the same time but then I realize that, yes, to some families, the cloud never goes away. There never seems to be a totally clear moment to catch your breath. I love the bond, though pretty thin at times, between the siblings and that I always see that in spite of all the hurtful words or happenings, you can see that they have each other’s interests at heart. [...] There are no superheros in this production, just people living out their lives to the best of their abilities.”
-Liz Martin (Winnipeg, MB)
No matter who you are or where you watch from, thanks for being a part of the This Life family. Without your week in, week out tweets, Facebook comments, and eyeballs this wouldn’t be possible.
I'm Max Morin, Junior Writer, Story Coordinator and your official insider for all things THIS LIFE.