Lynette Rice
June 11, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Showtime, Aug. 16, 10:30 p.m.

What it’s about: Laura Linney plays a suburban high school teacher named Cathy who’s diagnosed with a terminal case of skin cancer. A smart-alecky control freak, Cathy chooses to keep her illness from her fun-loving husband, Paul (Oliver Platt), and her free-spirited brother (John Benjamin Hickey of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) to maintain some semblance of normality. ”She still wants things on her terms,” explains Linney.

What to expect: Ultimately, the cancer prompts Cathy to redefine her relationship with her family and to reconnect with some of her apathetic students, like Andrea (Precious‘ Gabourey Sidibe). ”She’s a woman sleepwalking through her life,” explains exec producer Jenny Bicks (Men in Trees). ”Cancer brought her back to life and allows her to figure out who she wants to be.” Adds Linney, ”My hope is that it will be extremely life-affirming, in a joyous, wacky, uncomfortable way.”

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