Why I Think 'The Big Sick' Is the Movie We All Need Right Now


Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

Anyone who has been following my website, Immune Competence, over the last few months knows we have been really excited about the movie “The Big Sick.” The movie follows the real-life romance of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan) through the normal awkwardness of dating, but they are thrown for a loop due to cultural differences and oh yeah, Emily is in a coma through part of the courtship.

My wife Kristen surprised me with a date night this past Friday when the movie opened in Washington, D.C. It was a packed house for the 7:30 showing and I was excited because it had gotten great reviews. I was also excited for Gordon and Nanjiani, the writers of the movie, because I felt like I already knew their story — well, minus being Pakistani — sorry, Kumail. Besides some back and forth on Twitter, I don’t actually know them, but that is the weird thing: I don’t need to know them to be cheering for them. My co-founder Lisa said it best in her previous article on the movie, The Big Sick – A Movie We Can Get Behind, “This is the kind of narrative our community needs; not another lame trope about how no one could really have this kind of illness.”

How could any movie and story live up to this kind of expectation? I think “The Big Sick” lives up to it and more. This is the story I believe we all need right now, in a never-ending news cycle of negativity about how a nation built by immigrants seems to be turning its back, or how under a newly proposed healthcare law we could be leaving the most sick, like myself, Lisa, Emily, and so many more whose voices are being ignored, without the health coverage we deserve. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gordon admits that the movie “was not meant to be political, but without my insurance I would still have those astronomical bills.”

I found myself in tears at Nanjiani’s persistence and fight when he found himself in a helpless position. I see that same fight in my wife when she is worried about my energy levels, or a new law that is being proposed that will affect us more than anyone on either side of our families. I cried some more when I caught the real Emily V. Gordon in the last scene of the movie, smiling ear-to-ear, looking at her husband as if to say, “We did it!”

While the real Emily V. Gordon was not diagnosed with common variable immune deficiency until after the movie wrapped, she didn’t need to have the diagnosis in the movie for it to be relatable. We have all been there; for example, the fights with family because we chose to go another direction than they wanted. We have all had the moment of putting up our guard while we deal with what is ahead, wondering if this is the person who will have enough fight to help deal with the unpredictable medical stuff ahead.

Overall, I highly recommend “The Big Sick.” Take a friend, take your spouse, and take someone who may understand your story better by seeing their story on the big screen. I hope you embrace the hard days like Nanjiani says: “Let’s try and own this, and have a good time if we can. It’s time to relax, lie on the couch and watch movies. Let’s eat cakes and shit.” I know that is how we do it in my house, sir! Now go see this movie! I don’t think you will regret it.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo courtesy of The Big Sick Facebook page


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

amazon and apple logo

These Companies Have Remote Jobs That May Be Great for People With Chronic Illnesses or Disabilities

This piece was updated on August 7, 2018. If you have a chronic illness or disability, physically going to work every day can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find employment. With the right accommodations, many people are able to work at least part-time. To help you in your job search, we’ve identified [...]
A group of friends at a concert.

What You Didn't See When I Was at a Rock Concert With My Chronic Illness

I went to a rock concert this week. I painted my arms with “pre-existing condition.” I wore jeans, a tank top and Wonder Woman Chucks. I saw four bands. I headbanged. I screamed. I pumped my fists in the air. I gnashed my teeth as Otep urged us all to resist the persecution of our [...]
woman with colorful watercolor splash across her face

The 2 Most Frustrating Questions You Can Ask a Person With Invisible Illness

Being chronically ill does not make you exempt from all those questions you wish people hadn’t thought of but proceed to ask anyway. The annoying, eye roll, please-stop-talking questions. In fact, like a moth to a flame, they come in tidal waves. Never-ending. Now if I had a broken leg, would I still be asked these questions? [...]

My Friend and I Are Both Chronically Ill, but I Still Struggle With How to Help Her

I am only 16, and my friend is 16 as well. We both have very different chronic disorders/illnesses. Hers are postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). Mine are autoimmune disorders. We bonded quickly because of these struggles, and we have become very good friends. A lot of our symptoms are the same, [...]