Friendship isn’t a big thing: It’s a million little things.
It may sound like a cliche, but that phrase is given a deeper meaning through each thrilling episode of ABC’s new hit show, “A Million Little Things,” which just finished its first season at the end of February. The show, which has since been renewed by ABC for a second season, premiered in September and has captivated viewers ever since with its portrayal of difficult topics and characters that you learn to love more with each passing episode.
Throughout the first season, the show touches on some topics that can often be uncomfortable, including suicide, adultery, cancer and depression. In the first episode alone, we learn about the seemingly random and tragic suicide of Jon Dixon, a member of the main friend group in the show. Jon, an avid believer that “everything happens for a reason,” is painted through flashbacks and other characters’ descriptions as the glue that held the group together; he always offered his support to anyone who needed it and thought up creative solutions to spin any unfavorable occurrence into a positive situation.
The group also consists of three other men: Gary, Eddie and Rome. When all four men got stuck in an elevator together years before, they discovered that they were all superfans of the same hockey team, turning an unfortunate incident into a friendship.
When Gary first hears about Jon’s death, he is shown in a doctor’s office, where it is revealed that he is in remission from breast cancer. Eddie is implied to be having an affair, and is all packed up to leave his workaholic wife when he receives the call. When Rome picks up the phone, he has a mouthful of pills which he then spits out from shock.
After his death, the group struggles with the notion that without Jon, there is no backbone to the group. Upon discovering the secrets they’ve kept from each other — affairs with others in the group, unplanned pregnancies, the discovery of Jon’s secret apartment — the men are left wondering if they truly know as much about each other as they had previously thought.
Throughout the season, the bonds among the characters deepen as they begin to uncover the mystery behind Jon’s suicide. The plot thickens with each new episode, introducing new drama and slowly but surely offering some comfort and explanation to the looming question of “Why?” surrounding Jon’s death. Gary, Eddie and Rome are left to deal with their own demons without Jon, and are faced with the realization that nothing in life is ever certain, while Delilah must learn to cope with the crippling guilt she feels regarding her marriage to Jon.
While not as comprehensive in its flashback scenes — the character of Jon could be much more fleshed-out than he is — “A Million Little Things” makes up for the areas it lacks in with its seemingly endless supply of drama and plot twists. Every few episodes bring a new surprise that Jon left behind for the clan, and the individual storylines begin to mesh together as added details make sense of them in the bigger picture.
The cast does an excellent job, and the inclusion of touchy subjects such as mental health adds an aspect of realness to the show. Rome’s hesitance to tell his wife about his depression and his internal struggle with the decision to go to therapy are just two examples of a very real portrayal of somebody struggling with mental illness and the effects it can have on a person’s life.
Overall, if you enjoyed “This is Us,” you are likely to enjoy “A Million Little Things,” too. It packs in a bunch of important topics, and keeps the audience’s attention with the dramatic twists and sporadic humor sprinkled throughout the season. The entire first season is available to stream on Hulu, so if you’re looking for a new show to binge watch, look no further. From the diverse characters to the heavy topics to the riveting mysteries, it’s not just one thing that makes this series so intriguing — it’s a million little things.
I give the first season of “A Million Little Things” four stars out of five.