There are a lot of new TV series premiering over the next few weeks, but few have gotten as much buzz as ABC's "A Million Little Things."
For some time, the network kept details of the series under wraps, but it was recently revealed that the plot centers around a group of friends trying to reconcile the shocking suicide of their friend, played by Ron Livingston. If it sounds similar to "The Big Chill" -- it kind of is.
“I watched ‘The Big Chill’ before I should have been allowed to,” creator D.J. Nash said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It really influenced my life.”
However, he added, unlike in the film, which focused on a group of friends who reunite for a friend's funeral, "we’re going to stay and watch the transformation take place.”
Of course, there's plenty more to know about the series before the premiere tonight at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT. Among them:
1. The show will not glamorize suicide: After the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade this past June, Nash called ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey to ask that the network include a public service announcement at the end of the pilot, the L.A. Times reported. In addition to three cast members, the PSA will include Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda and the band's late frontman Chester Bennington's widow, Talinda Ann Bentley. Bennington died by suicide last year. “I think there’s absolutely nothing romantic about suicide -- it’s a real conscious thing in our [writers’] room,” Nash said, according to the newspaper. “We’re not romanticizing the story; we’re telling it in an authentic way...If you watch the show, you’ll see that these people’s lives are changed because of this. I don’t think [people] will watch the show and say, ‘Oh, I should do that too.’ If anything, it’s a cautionary tale of what can happen. It is something we take unbelievably seriously.”
2. It's based on a real-life experience: According to Variety, Nash lost a friend to suicide, and that experience inspired him to write "A Million Little Things." However, he added, "people grieve in different ways," which is why he wanted it to be an ensemble drama. “The friends move on different levels with regards to losing their friend,” he said. “That’s what’s interesting, I think, about death: every time you lose someone, it goes back to the other losses you’ve had.”
3. It's going to take a hard look at male friendships: "The show is very life-affirming in that we all experience a tragedy that's completely unexpected and it forces us to take stock of our lives," David Giuntoli, who stars as Eddie Saville in the series, told "Good Morning America." "We're four dudes who hung out all the time and we know nothing about what's going on internally in each other's lives." Romany Malco, who plays a character named Rome Howard, added that it's important to discuss loneliness and depression. "The show is helping us look at -- and helping the characters understand -- that strength comes in vulnerability," he said.
4. The main cast is not all male, of course: Though Giuntoli, Malco, Livingston and James Roday star as the show's big foursome, each has his own personal life as well. Giuntoli's character is in a complicated marriage with Katherine Kim, played by Grace Park; Malco's character, who was also suicidal, is married to a chef named Regina Howard, played by Christina Moses; Livingston's character's devastated widow and the mother of his children is played by Stéphanie Szostak; and James Roday's character, who battled cancer, is in a relationship with a therapist, played by Allison Miller.
5. Life on set can get pretty silly: Malco and Giuntoli told "Good Morning America" that while the subject matter on the show can be heavy, behind-the-scenes, there are plenty of light moments. For example, Giuntoli said, during one recent shoot, Malco, who'd had an especially busy day, fell asleep in the middle of shooting a scene. "It was really funny: his eyes [snapped open] and he was downloading his entire life. 'Where am I?' he said," Giuntoli said. "I'm like, 'Stop, grandpa! Don't talk at least!’" Malco was tickled. "Dave might be funnier than a lot of the comedians we spend an hour, hour and a half watching," he responded.