On the Scene 3/8: A million little reasons to give hope to network television

Now that the Academy Awards have come to an end, I’ll be switching over to the smaller screen this week and talking about a television series that concluded its first season last week, “A Million Little Things.”

When it comes to television today, in my humble opinion, it’s all garbage. I watch a collective three shows and two of them are on premium channels. Most television series today are crime dramas which eventually repeat the same story after two to three seasons due to a lack of original thought from the writers. And the shows that do not repeat the same story arcs have the same core structure that you can predict what’s going to happen or how an event will play out in the first 10 minutes of an episode.

That is not the case with “A Million Little Things,” which has made me emotional through almost every episode.

The third time is the charm for writer DJ Nash, who has had his two previous network television series cancelled after one season. Now, already picked up for a second season, “A Million Little Things” has left me wanting more.

The series follows four best friends all working in the heart of Boston. Eddie (David Giuntoli), a former rock star and alcoholic who is in a terrible marriage; Gary (James Roday), a bachelor who seeks out women at his breast cancer recovery group, which he attends after being in remission himself for a year; Rome (Romany Malco), a television advertisement writer who is dealing with depression; and Jon (Ron Livingston), a CEO of an international real estate firm, who opts to jump from the top of his building in the opening minutes of the pilot and leave everyone asking the question: why?

For someone who had it all – a beautiful wife, two children, an international multi-million-dollar real estate company – to opt to commit suicide would leave anyone asking why? But that’s the purpose of the series: it’s to shine light on what so many have been dealing with in the dark. Depression is a real thing.

This series connects with me on so many levels and has honestly gotten me through a lot these past couple of months. For a form of entertainment to be used as a piece of aid speaks volumes about this series.

Though the characters in the series are dealing with the aftermath of their friends’ suicide, the character Rome is still battling his own depression. The series gives viewers the perspective of what others go through after a loss, while also giving them the perspective of what people battling depression go through on a daily basis.

Watching someone go through something which has personally affected me has made it easier. Though it is fictional, it shows that you are not alone. No one is ever alone.

If more network television series could speak to its audiences rather than to its ratings, these companies wouldn’t be so annoyed every September when streaming services and premium channels take home all of the recognition.

People want something to give them meaning. We want a connection. “A Million Little Things” does exactly that and Nash should be praised for his writing.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7, toll-free at 1-800-273-8255. For more information, you can visit its website at www.suicidepreventionlifelife.org.

“A Million Little Things” has just concluded its first season on ABC. You can watch all episodes on ABC On Demand or on Hulu before its second season this fall.

Ken Downey Jr. is the Features Editor for Time OFF and Packet Publications. This is the seventh in a series of weekly columns focusing on arts and entertainment. He can be contacted at kdowney@newspapermediagroup.com.