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Series / Chasing Life

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She's making lemonade out of some very sour lemons.

"You never truly live until you know you're gonna die."
— Gerald

Chasing Life is an American television drama series that premiered June 10, 2014, on ABC Family. The series is adapted from the Televisa Spanish-language Mexican television series Terminales.

The drama series follows 24 year-old April Carver (Portrayed by Italia Ricci), an aspiring journalist whose goal in life is to impress her editor and work her way up the corporate ladder. Just as things in both her professional and personal life are starting to take flight, young April learns from her estranged uncle that she has cancer. Now she must decide how she wants to live the rest of her life—without knowing how much life she actually has left.

Cancer stories have an innate sense of urgency built into the premise, with the constant threat of death ticking in the background like a factory-installed clock. Chasing Life does something interesting (if ultimately somewhat problematic) with this ticking clock: it sort of ignores it. April gets diagnosed before the second-act break of the pilot, but any urgency that comes with this diagnosis gets strangely buried, added to the already haphazard pile of complications that is her life.

The show premiered in June of 2014 with an initial order of only 13 episode, but an additional seven episodes were later added to the first season order. It ended the following year after a 13 episode second season.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Greer's parents, especially her mom, are extremely controlling and neglectful. She finally calls them out on it.
  • Affectionate Nickname: April calls Brenna Brenn. Conversely, Brenna calls her "Ape" sometimes. as does Natalie. They are sisters with a close relationship, while forging this with Natalie too.
  • Ambiguously Bi: A few of Beth's comments indicate that she might lean towards this, and during the game of 'Never Have I Ever' in 'Unplanned Parenthood', she can be seen taking a drink along with Mallory and Brenna (both of whom are bisexual) when asked if they've ever been attracted to someone of the same sex.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Raquel, April's co-worker, who is described by Beth as 'exotic, in an ambiguous way'.
  • Amicable Exes:
    • Brenna and Kieran eventually develop into this after their breakup, even shown teasing each other about their new relationships.
    • April and Dominic as well, eventually.
  • Backhanded Compliment: Courtesy of Lawrence, April's boss. Actually, any compliment from Lawrence qualifies as this.
    "You're not totally illiterate."
  • Bait-and-Switch: 'Clear Minds, Full Lives, Can't Eat!' opens In Medias Res, with a POV shot from someone lying on the ground, looking at a cop standing overhead asking for a their name, and April replying off-screen (leading viewers to believe something bad has happened to her). After flashing back to the previous day and showing How We Got Here, the person on the ground is revealed to be Leo, who has collapsed from a seizure caused by his brain tumor.
  • Beta Couple: Beth and Graham, oddly enough.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: Brenna is initially torn between Kieran, her boyfriend, and Greer (a lesbian girl she's also into). She initially proposes dating them both. They don't go for this long however, so Brenna chooses Greer.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Raquel, as revealed in her first episode.
  • Black Humor:
    • Just about every other line that comes out of Leo's mouth.
    "Hey guys, I'm the sick kid with the brain tumor. I'm available for weddings and parties."
    • Beth and April indulge in this on occasion as well.
    "Hey dude, I ordered us coffee like ten minutes ago so can we speed it up here, my friend has cancer."
  • Blackmail: The series finale has Olivia blackmail George to sign over the rights for Thomas' unpublished manuscript or else she'll tell the police how he'd illegally let him die. George refuses to be intimidated though, and Olivia backs down.
  • Blatant Lies: Richie Miranda publicly denies that he's been doing drugs after April catches him in the act and then breaks the story that he's fallen Off the Wagon.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Bleeding gums is a symptom of leukemia, and April is shown spitting out blood after brushing her teeth in 'Blood Cancer Sex Carrots'.
  • Boyish Short Hair: April's hair is very short after the first half of season one, as it's slowly growing back after her chemo treatments. It isn't her usual style, and she's very feminine otherwise. She jokes how it makes her look like a lesbian. Brenna, a bisexual girl, snarks back at this being a stereotype.
  • Bridal Carry: After talking April down from her 'escape attempt' in 'Finding Chemo', Leo carries her out of the chapel this way, which serves as some nice foreshadowing, since that chapel is where they end up getting married in season two.
  • Broken Pedestal: April's opinion of her father gets thoroughly crushed over the course of the show.
  • Call-Back:
    • The first episode starts with April crashing a blood drive to score an interview with Richie Miranda, a baseball player who recently got out of drug rehab. In 'The Big Leagues', she interviews him again, and finds out that he's once again doing drugs.
    • Leo and April's wedding takes place in the same chapel that they talked in back in season one, and April points this out in her vows.
    • 'The Ghost In You' is basically one big call back to how Leo touched everyone's lives before his death.
  • The Cameo: Adore Delano makes a brief appearance at the beginning of 'The Ghost In You'.
  • Christmas Episode: 'Locks of Love', which actually takes place in May.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • The first episode ends with April visiting her father's grave, and crossing paths with a girl her own age, who tells her that she's also there to visit her father.
    • "Finding Chemo" ends with April seeing Leo's parents in the hospital and then finding a voicemail from him on her phone, which he starts by saying that he has something really important to tell her...
    • "Locks of Love" ends with Leo's heart rate dropping while he's on the operating table.
    • "Model Behavior": April gets a nosebleed and suspects that her cancer is back. The episode ends with her crying in Dominic's arms.
    • The series ends as April is still dealing with cancer, though she's accepted her possible death if treatments don't work out, resolving to live her life fully regardless. Beth is pregnant, and still unsure if she's going to have the baby. The police come to investigate George regarding his brother's death.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Graham, Dominic's roommate.
    Beth: "And what are your feelings on kale?"
    Graham: "It's not a real vegetable."
  • Cock Fight: Leo and Dominic exchange blows in 'The Domino Effect', when the latter tells the former that he's still in love with April and wants her back.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • In "Blood Cancer Sex Carrots", Sara discovers that her new therapy patient is the wife of Ben, the man she's dating.
    • Brenna transfers to a public school in season two, which just so happens to be the same school that the boy she donated bone marrow to attends. Neither of them are aware of the connection initially.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After Shawn and his buddy try to slut shame Brenna in public, Kieran takes the "Brotherhood" Chinese tattoo designs they requested, and alters them to read "I am slow".
  • Cool Bike: Leo's first appearance on the show features him almost running April over with his very expensive motorcycle. He gets an even nicer one a few episodes later in exchange for giving a speech at his father's fundraiser.
  • Cool Old Lady: April's grandmother, Emma, in spades. There's too many examples to name, so just remember that she once made April pot brownies.
    April: "Sometimes I think Grandma's cooler than me."
    Brenna: "She is."
  • Costume-Test Montage:
    • April has one while trying to decide what to wear to the gala in 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead'.
    • There's a second one in "Life of Brenna", featuring April, Brenna, Natalie, and Beth all trying on dresses for April's wedding.
  • Crash-Into Hello: April first meets Leo when he almost runs her over with his motorcycle in a parking lot.
  • Cry into Chest: April cries into Dominic's chest after she finds out about her father's affair.
  • A Day in the Limelight: 'Life of Brenna', for Brenna (obviously).
  • Deadpan Snarker: If Leo isn't busy making inappropriate jokes, then he's usually indulging in this instead.
  • Deadly Nosebleed: Like the bleeding gums, nosebleeds are a symptom of April's condition, and she has one early on while she's in denial about how serious her condition is.
  • Disabled Snarker: Leo, due to his brain tumor.
    "No April, I will not father your child. I'm really flattered, thanks."
  • Disappeared Dad: April, Brenna and Natalie's dad, who died in a car accident a few years before the series starts. Season two reveals he killed himself due to having ALS.
  • Double Entendre: There's an abundance of them in the episode where April and Leo have sex for the first time after her chemo.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Leo's death came barely one month after marrying April, and he'd recently accepted a philanthropic job doing what he loved at his father's company.
  • Dull Surprise: Dominic suffers from this. Aside from smiling, he has about three facial expressions (concerned, confused, and surprised) and they all look pretty much the same.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: April's weird dreams/nightmares/hallucinations from the first half of season one have thankfully been phased out.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Kieran has a tramp stamp with the name of his high-school English teacher.
  • Establishing Shot: There's a few of the Carver residence.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Raquel. April tells Danny that she has a professional crush on her.
  • Fake Guest Star: Scott Michael Foster (Leo) is credited as a Special Guest Star in season two, despite appearing regularly since early season one note .
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In 'Clear Minds, Full Lives, Can't Eat!', Leo begins stammering, blinking rapidly, and looking around in confusion moments before he climbs out of the car and collapses from a seizure. The stammering also serves as a Call-Forward to 'What to Expect When You're Expecting Chemo', when he begins speaking gibberish mid-sentence during a live televised interview.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The first episode shows Brenna trying to get back together with a guy named Shawn, and she's devastated when he blows her off. It initially seems like he's just a guy she has a one-sided crush on, but then we learn later that he had previously gotten her pregnant and paid for her to get an abortion.
    • "Marrying you is my dying wish." If the fandom hadn't already suspected what was going to happen, that sealed it.
    • Leo mentions that he has a headache in a passing comment at the beginning of 'As Long as We Both Shall Live'. The entire fandom went into mourning right then and there.
  • Friendly Rivalry: April has a professional one with Danny, the coworker in the cubicle next to hers.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Greer and Ford are both girls.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot:
    • Kieran makes a couple of comments to this effect.
    • Brenna and Ford offer to make out in front of Finn, in order to cheer him up. He watches in delight.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Raquel, to both Lawrence and Aaron. She eventually gets promoted to editor.
  • Important Haircut:
    • After April's hair starts falling out, she has Beth start gradually cutting it shorter, going through several different hairstyles before finally asking Leo to shave her head for her. He shaves his off too, to make it less traumatic for her.
    • In 'One Day', she cuts and shaves it herself before being admitted to the hospital for her second round of chemotherapy.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: In 'What to Expect When You're Expecting Chemo', April's family tease her about her upcoming fertility treatment by throwing out several egg-related puns during breakfast.
  • Informed Judaism: Shawna, a lady from April's support group, invites the members to her Bat Mitzvah.
  • The Intern: April (in the beginning) and her co-worker Danny. Lawrence calls them "Floaters".
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Brenna tells Greer that her mom said 'no' to her moving in with them, leaving Greer free to move to Nantucket with her father after her parent's divorce.
  • Jerkass: Ford is shallow, rude to people she doesn't like, and becomes jealous of the time Brenna is spending with Greer after they start dating, going so far as to make some rude comments about Brenna's sexual orientation. She's also the one who told the school authorities about them skipping the eco-club lecture in Florida. She eventually gets better, but still remains very shallow.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: April's first impression of Leo is that he's blunt, reckless, and doesn't appear to care how his behavior affects other people. She pretty quickly learns otherwise, realizing that he genuinely cares about his friends at the support group and goes out of his way to help them have a good time, even going so far as to use his father's money to make their last wishes become a reality.note  He also anonymously funded April's fertility treatments (which cost a whopping $5,000), and blows it off as nothing when she figures out it was him.
    April: "You know, you're not as much of an ass as you pretend to be."
    Leo: "Dammit, my secret's out."
  • Killed Off for Real: Leo dies in his sleep with almost no warning only one episode after his and April's wedding.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: After waking up from his coma, Leo is unable to remember much about the days leading up to his surgery. Most importantly, he's unable to remember why he agreed to the surgery in the first place, which puts a strain on his relationship with April, since as far as he can remember his plan was to die with his dignity intact.
  • The Last Straw: April collapses in 'The Last W', as all the stress she's been putting her body through - and all of the uncontrolled environments she's been spending her time in - during season two finally catches up with her.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility:
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "This is the slowest moving soap opera I've ever seen!"
  • Lethal Chef: Grandma Emma is the first to admit that she cannot cook worth a damn and the best day of her life was the day that the microwave was invented.
  • Love Triangle: Leo makes no secret about his interest in April, and she develops feelings for him even though she's still in a relationship with Dominic at the time. Dominic breaks up with her after learning that she lied to him for months about having cancer (although as of season two, he's still harboring feelings for her), and she and Leo eventually become an Official Couple.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: Downplayed; "The Age of Consent" has a brief scene where April informs Leo that she doesn't plan to change her last name after they get married. He asks if she's open to hyphenating, but she vetoes that as well so he lets the topic go.
  • Meaningful Funeral:
    • The support group throws a "pre-funeral" for Jackson when he relapses.
    • Leo's funeral in "The Ghost In You", complete with balloons and a singing drag queen. Trust us, it's not as cheesy as it sounds.
  • Mistaken for Gay: The lesbian couple at the fertility clinic assume that April and Beth are also a couple. Beth plays along.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Graham overhears April throwing up in the bathroom and initially assumes that she was purging; when she denies that she has an eating disorder, he assumes that she's pregnant instead.
  • Mistimed Revival: Leo opens his eyes when April mentions Dominic's name while she's ranting to his comatose body in 'Next April', but that's all that happens. He doesn't fully wake up until the end of the episode.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: These are present in any scene featuring a topless female.
  • Mood Whiplash: The mood in the final scene of 'As Long as We Both Shall Live' whiplashed so hard it left fans reeling as April tried to surprise Leo with pie for breakfast in bed, only to realize that he wasn't breathing.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Leo and Dominic each get their fair share of shirtless scenes, to say nothing of the fact that they're both just really gorgeous.
  • My Beloved Smother: Sara Carver means well but she's extremely overprotective, which isn't appreciated by either of her daughters.
  • New Old Flame: Sara and Uncle George dated briefly when they were younger, and they get back together for a short time during season one.
  • No Bisexuals:
    • Once she tells them she's bisexual, Brenna's grandparents call her gay repeatedly.
    • It's discussed as well later. Brenna faces some prejudice from members of the LGBT club at school when some of them don't agree that her sexuality is valid. A couple of them straight up accuse her of being a lesbian and just refusing to admit it.
    Gay Student: "My theory, bi guys are actually gay and bi girls are straight."
    Brenna: "But I'm not straight; I mean the last two people I dated were girls."
    Mariah: "Maybe you’re just gay."
  • Not So Above It All: Leo steals a sports car for a joy ride in 'Clear Minds, Full Lives, Can't Eat!'. April yells at him for breaking the law, so he basically rolls his eyes and reminds her that a) they both have cancer so it's unlikely that they're going to get in serious trouble for it, and b) she's never going to have another chance to drive a nice car like this, so why not make the most of it? She glares at him... before cracking a smile, then switching places with him and driving away at high speed while they both laugh.
  • Now What?: 'Next April' ends on this note, after Leo finally wakes up from his coma.
    April: "So... we're alive."
    Leo: "Now what?"
  • One Head Taller: Leo to April.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Greer begins skipping class, dyes her hair, and tries to talk Kieran into giving her a tattoo. She finally admits that the reason she's acting strange is because she quit taking her medications as a 'screw you' to her parents.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: A few days after their first date, Dominic overhears the last part of a conversation between April and her Uncle George, and assumes that she's in a relationship with another man.
  • Pair the Spares: Dominic and Natalie get together for a while.
  • Parent with New Paramour: April and Brenna are initially supportive of their mom's decision to start dating again at the beginning of the show, but Brenna finds she's not so comfortable with it when she walks in on Sara about to have sex with her new boyfriend, Ben.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Aaron. He's not totally incompetent, but he has no prior experience in newspaper journalism and Raquel groans that he's going to run the newspaper into the ground. He eventually gets fired during the fallout over April's story about Richie Miranda.
  • The Pollyanna: Greer is almost eternally cheerful, and Brenna even comments in one of their early scenes together that she never stops smiling. Later subverted when she reveals that her parents have had her on medication for anxiety and depression since she was seven.
  • Polyamory: Brenna dates Kieran and Greer at the same time for a while, after getting the two's consent to do this. However, it collapses almost immediately as neither likes this, and Brenna chooses to date Greer exclusively.
  • Previously on…: Used in every episode.
  • Put on a Bus: Lawrence, April's boss for the first several episodes, retires off-screen sometime after 'Unplanned Parenthood'. We don't find out about it until episode 12 (five episodes later), so it's implied that he retired while she was on medical leave.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Brenna joins her high school's LGBT club in Season 2, where she's given shit by Andrew (who's gay) and Mariah (a lesbian) over being bisexual, who repeat the standard biphobic stereotypes. They apologize somewhat afterward, but Brenna is naturally unhappy at getting this from other LGBT teens in what should have been a safe space. In retaliation, she repeats the gay and lesbian stereotypes to them later, giving a taste of their own medicine back while telling both kids off for this.
  • Recurring Extra: The background members of April's cancer support group, most memorably the tall, bald, black woman who often ends up in the background of a scene but never speaks.
  • Relationship Upgrade: April and Leo tie the knot in season two.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Dominic, for April.
  • Rule of Drama: If someone is keeping a secret, you can guarantee that the person they're keeping it from will find out in the most dramatic way possible.
  • Secret-Keeper: Until 'The Family That Lies Together', the only people who are aware that April has cancer are Uncle George, Beth, Leo, and Brenna.
    • Uncle George was aware of his brother's second family in Florida, but kept it a secret. It's later revealed that Sara also found out after Thomas' death.
    • As shown in season two, Uncle George is apparently still keeping secrets for his brother even after his death.
    • April becomes one for Dominic, when he reveals that his mother is in jail.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: More like 'screw this, you're outta here', but Brenna pulls this when she breaks things off with Margo.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Leo would claim it's actually 'Screw the Rules, I Have Cancer', but there's no denying that his father's money has played a part in helping him avoid any serious consequences from his reckless behavior.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Leo and Raquel both make their first appearance in the second episode.
  • Secret Other Family: Thomas, the recently deceased dad of April and Brenna, turns out to have another daughter living in Florida from an adulterous affair he had which they didn't know about. He had stayed surreptitiously involved with Natalie's life. They soon forge a relationship with her too.
  • Ship Tease: Brenna and Ford kiss in season two.
  • Spit Take: Dominic chokes on his coffee when April informs him that she knows that he made out with her half-sister the night before.
  • Split Screen: 'The Last W' has a scene where Leo and April carry on a serious conversation from opposite sides of a door, with the door providing the split down the middle of the screen.
  • Stoners Are Funny: April eats half of a pot cookie to help with her anxiety, and becomes unusually mellow and talkative. She also eats a ton of food.
  • Time Skip:
    • Season one has a four month time jump between episodes 11 and 12.
    • Season two has a one month gap between episodes 6 and 7.
  • Title Card:
    • Used in the Pilot, "Finding Chemo", and "One Day". The last two are both about April being admitted to the hospital and starting chemotherapy.
    • "The Ghost In You" in season two.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Raquel, of all people, saves April's butt when she screws up her first big interview back at work by pointing out that the article never should have been pitched in the first place since it was too cliche. Of course, being Raquel, she claims she was just doing what was best for the paper.
  • Toplessness from the Back: April, while having sex with Leo in "One Day".
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: April's phone rings while she's in the elevator with Danny and Dominic. The problem is her phone is in her purse. Which is full of condoms. The guys start teasing her because she's just letting her phone ring, and she practically bolts out of the elevator when it stops at her floor.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Zigzagged with Leo. He never took a dime of his parent's money before he had cancer, and actually lived on his own in Paris for a year, living in a crappy apartment and working in a crappy bakery to support himself. After he got sick, he had to move back home and accept their help to pay for his treatments. His lifestyle has less to do with the amount of money in his trust fund and more to do with the fact that he has a terminal brain tumor and without surgery he only has a few months to live.
  • Urban Legend Love Life:
    • April's investigation of Dominic's social media pages indicates that he's quite the ladies man, but aside from a few one-night-stands while he's rebounding from his breakup with April, his onscreen relationships have been limited to April and Natalie.
    • In "Unplanned Parenthood", Leo claims that he's tried to kiss 'like ten other girls' since he kissed April in the previous episode. While not impossible (and let's be real, not that improbable either given that this is Leo), he's never shown displaying interest in anyone other than April.
  • Wham Episode: "One Day", the season one finale. April's cancer is back and she has twenty-four hours to get her affairs in order before starting her second round of chemotherapy. Meanwhile, The Post is laying off employees, Sara and Uncle George get stuck in Cleveland when their flight home is delayed, Brenna learns that she's a positive match for someone on the bone marrow waiting list and agrees to donate, Dr. Hamburg pushes April to finally confront her feelings about her relapse, and Leo proposes to April. And she says yes. Whew.
  • Wham Shot:
    • "Blood Cancer Sex Carrots" ends by revealing Leo at April's cancer support group.
    • The final shot of Brenna in season one, as she orders coffee from a street vendor, unaware that she's standing next to Finn, the boy who will be receiving her bone marrow.
    • The end of "As Long as We Both Shall Live" shows April going to wake Leo and realizing he's dead.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: After a night of heavy drinking, April wakes up in Dominic's bed, unsure of what exactly happened or if they slept together. She gets even more unnerved when the man himself comes in to ask how she's feeling and to reassure her that she can stay and rest as long as she needs to given her "condition", leaving her to wonder if she told him about her cancer. Turns out he was actually talking about her hangover.
  • Workaholic: April is extremely dedicated to her job, and is very upset when she realizes that her treatments will necessitate a medical break just as her career is starting to take off. After she finishes chemotherapy and is in remission, she jumps right back into work as soon as her doctor clears her. She later quits her job at The Post in the season one finale (in order to save Danny's job), and season two sees her ultimately Deconstruction this trope by taking a step back from her career to focus on her health and her personal life.
  • Working with the Ex: April and Dominic, after their breakup. It's awkward, to say the least. It slowly gets better.