TVLine's Performer of the Week: Chasing Life's Italia Ricci

Chasing Life

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Italia Ricci

THE SHOW | Chasing Life

THE EPISODE | “The Family That Lies Together”

THE AIRDATE | July 8, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | Ricci is, without a doubt, one of this summer’s brightest breakout stars. As 24-year-old leukemia patient April Carver, Ricci is taking Chasing Life viewers on an emotional, unexpected journey into an uncertain future; with a single tear-stained word, she’s lifted our spirits, then immediately turned around and broken our hearts.

April has spent the past four weeks keeping her condition a secret from her family, desperate to retain some semblance of the life she knew before — but her security bubble finally popped this Tuesday, as she was forced to reveal her illness in a powerful scene that showcased the true range of Ricci’s talents.

There was no group hug, no swelling music to cushion the blow — just a scared young woman struggling to face the family she didn’t want to burden with her truth. Finally, she managed to speak: “I have leukemia.” April couldn’t even face her family as she said it, and from the look on her face, you could tell she barely believed it herself.

The emotional weight of her confession, coupled with the recent discovery of her half-sister — the product of her late father’s affair — proved too much for April to bear. Falling into the arms of love-interest Dominic, Ricci poured out four weeks of April’s bottled emotions, tears we expect were shared by many watching from home.

While it may be hard for young viewers to imagine themselves experiencing either of April’s predicaments, much less both, Ricci’s realistic portrayal of a young woman facing immeasurable odds has made the journey an accessible one.

LivHONORABLE MENTION | HBO’s The Leftovers has a tendency to put us through a gamut of emotions, and Liv Tyler encapsulated each one of them in her portrayal of Meg Abbott in this week’s episode. In just a handful of scenes, Tyler infused in her desperate character confusion, exasperation, sadness and a few fleeting seconds of hope. And considering The Leftovers’ basic premise is one that we can’t fathom happening in real life, Tyler’s ability to make Meg relatable deserves the highest praise. As she turned to Amy Brenneman’s Laurie and said, simply, “I don’t want to feel this way anymore,” we felt deep compassion for a character we’d only just met.

SalemHONORABLE MENTION | All season we’ve watched as Salem‘s Seth Gabel kept Cotton Mather’s issues with his father close to the surface, revealing every sting as Increase continued to belittle and insult him both in public and in private. But as Cotton defended John Alden at his trial, Gabel showed us a man coming into his own, denouncing Increase’s interrogations-by-torture with a fierce, newfound confidence. However, it wasn’t long before he let that same confidence crumble, allowing us to see not only how deeply betrayed he felt by John’s secret past, but also how he’d become Cotton’s best (and only) friend.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. ggny says:

    I thought Kathryn Prescott from Finding Carter was great in the pilot episode and deserves a mention. Especially considering it was a MTV Show

  2. Diz says:

    I just can’t get into Chasing Life. I’m about ready to take it off the DVR.

    • says:

      I agreed. I gave it up. I really wanted to like it, but didn’t. I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t…

    • Melosm says:

      Really? I am loving the show. I look forward to it each week.

    • me says:

      It’s one of the more subtle ABC Family shows. A little lighter on the preachiness and overall cheese. There’s still cheese, it’s ABC Family after all, but surprisingly engrossing.

    • Bryce says:

      Yeah, it’s a little boring. I think it would’ve helped if they would have mentioned the half-sister more before this, since we’ve only seen her in episode 1 and she’s only been a major plot point in episode 5. That’s too long to wait on an interesting plot.

  3. c-mo says:

    I am really enjoying this show, much to my amazement. I think the biggest reason is because of Ms. Ricci, she has a phenomenal grasp of emoting at such a young age and this recognition is much deserved. Thank you, Ms. Ricci for sharing your talents with us!

    • johnhelvete says:

      I really like how Italia Ricci uses her voice in some of the more dramatic scenes. She has her voice break just a little bit when she tells her mom about the cancer in this episode and she has done that in a few other key scenes as well.

      I actually think she was better in the previous episode when she blurted out she had cancer to her sister during their argument. Not saying she was not great in this episode, just that the scene with Brenna was the high point for me for the show so far.

    • Ginger Lee says:

      At such a young age? She’s almost 30 not 13.

  4. Haley1020 says:

    What about Gilles Marini from switched at birth!?

  5. James says:

    Ricci is fantastic!!!

  6. Genesis says:

    It was a good performance from Ricci, but I probably wont continue watching the show. It just doesn’t have the same grit and suspense as other TV dramas. Brenna’s story, for example, is super boring. Most of the scenes in ‘Chasing Life’ feel too wholesome for something as serious as cancer. I don’t think this will change now that the family knows.

    • MEL31602 says:

      Yeah I feel like the only scenes I care about in Chasing Life are the ones involving April and her cancer and her job (the latter only b/c as a writer myself i get mad everytime they show how supposedly terrible newsroom life is). I really dont care about her friend’s failure to find a new job or her sister making friends with a popular chick. And I can already predict the half sister will likely be used as a bone marrow donor for April so I feel that plot is kind of a waste of time.

      • johnhelvete says:

        The bone marrow donor theory is a popular one, but the half sister story line for me is about April’s relationship and memory of her father even if the character ends up as a possible future plot device. ABC Family does have a certain style or tone to their shows and perhaps a little more of an edge to this story might be more appealing to some viewers who want a more serious tone, and it will interesting to see what the show does to depict April’s health as it gets worse, but I really like the show.

    • ... says:

      Wait, you’re looking for grit? On an ABC Family show? I’m afraid this is on you, because the show never set out to be the tween Breaking Bad that you’re looking for.

  7. Ally Oop says:

    Chasing Life is by far the best new show this summer. I wish its ratings were better.

  8. Ally Oop says:

    This kind of makes me miss BC. Hopefully I`ll get back to Vancouver soon–it`s probably my favourite city.

    • Ally Oop says:

      Um, how did this comment end up here. I posted it after the sneak peaks from the set article. Thank you iPhone 4 and thank you TVLine for the redesign which makes posting from an iPhone 4 annoying.

  9. Juan says:

    I really like Chasing life and will def continue watching but I agree that Brenna is annoying and so is the mom but everyone else is great.

  10. Luiza says:

    I like the show but this last episode was kinda terrible. And I really expected more of her performance. She didn’t shed a tear the entire episode. It was such a big moment for the show and I was a little disappointed. I hope it gets better.