David Giuntoli, James Roday and Romany Malco Jr. (ABC)
I don’t think I can remember a network pushing a new fall show so hard as ABC has A Million Little Things. It started early on with just a black screen, a short phrase about friendship and a few quick music notes followed by the hashtag #millionthings – or something similar. Then the network began showing the same “You’ll never guess what just happened. Jon killed himself” promo commercial over and over and over again. My kids started reciting the commercial when it would air. Even the last two nights of Dancing with the Stars season premiere was “brought to you by A Million Little Things.” Enough already. Tonight’s the night that everyone in America has been waiting for – at least that is what ABC hopes will happen with its answer to NBC’s This is Us.
While This is Us is a show about family, Million Things is about friendship. Supposedly. I say “supposedly” because some of the characters of this show don’t have a clue of what that means and I guess (or hope) that is the bigger picture for this show. From the constant commercial viewing, one would take away from it that life is too short for weak friendships and that Jon’s suicide is a reminder of such. But before the pilot episode is over, other facts are revealed about this small group’s friendships that will no doubt be tested as the series goes on.
Jonathan Dixon (Ron Livingston) had it all. The Harvard grad was a happily married real estate mogul who made friends easily, took care of others and offered “wisdom” telling his friends that everything happens for a reason and sometimes you just need to look harder to find out what that reason is. Many of us have shared this same wisdom with our family and friends. But as one of Jon’s friends points out at his funeral, he can’t figure out why Jon needed to kill himself. The fact that Livingston is featured as a regular cast member seems to suggest that the suicide mystery won’t be going away any time soon.
Now, each of Jon’s friends have their own stuff to work out:
- Delilah Dixon (Stephanie Szostak) is the now a widow raising two kids on her own. Oh, and she has her own secret.
- Eddie Saville (David Giuntoli) is a former rock star-turned-stay-at-home-dad. He no longer loves his overbearing and often absent wife and wants to run away with a mystery person on the phone.
- Katherine Kim (Grace Park) is Eddie’s overbearing wife who regrets coming to the funeral as she didn’t think it would be an all-day-affair.
- Rome Howard (Romany Malco) is terribly depressed and is struggling with ending his own life.
- Regina Howard (Christina Marie Moses) is Rome’s loving wife who is missing the fact that her husband is depressed and finds that Jon has left her a surprise after his passing.
- Gary Mendez (James Roday) is the annoying guy in the commercial that say that no one knew what was really going in in Jon’s life (Did you? Did you?) and is dealing with a new relationship of a fellow cancer survivor. Gary is often seen as the comic relief but his character goes back and forth from being a super-caring friend to an “I’ve had it with all of you” type.
- Maggie Bloom (Allison Miller) is the cancer survivor friend that Gary is now seeing.
- Ashley Morales (Christina Ochoa) is the now former secretary of Jon who was the last to him alive. She is also hiding a folder that john left for her.
While I’m willing to give this series another chance or two, I have two big problems with the story so far. One is the fact that the man who jumps to his death is seen as the guy who had it all together and was constantly sharing refrigerator magnet bits of wisdom to his friends. While it is often difficult to understand why someone would take their own life, most of us can assume that nobody does so if everything is going swell for them. So perhaps, the guys left behind can stop talking about how Jon always knew what to do in any given situation. I won’t be surprised if an upcoming episode the guys talk about what how Jon would have handled this situation.
The second problem I have with the series is how when some issues come to light (like Eddie admitting that he’s having an affair) that his friends don’t call him on his bad behavior. Sure, he hates his wife, but cheating on her isn’t exactly helping things. He tells his friends that he didn’t mean to fall in love, but that it “just happened.” (Really? Are we still using that excuse?) And again, the guys don’t react. At least this show deals with the subject of male friendship for a change, but is friendship only listening to each other whine about their lives or is there a higher purpose to friendship? Perhaps calling out one another when they are wrong?
A Million Little Things airs on Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.