Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have another new series to add to the list. I wanted to like this new one. I really tried to like it. But there’s nothing that compelling about it, in my opinion.
9-1-1 is about life for First Responders as they try to balance work drama with their own personal dramas. Some are trivial – a firefighter in a relationship but it’s slowly breaking down. A young buck rookie firefighter abuses his job position and equipment to get laid. Other dramas are more serious – the 9-1-1 operator’s elderly mother has alzheimer’s. The cop’s husband just came out as gay to her and their children.
I watched the trailers for this, and I thought it looked like something I could enjoy – lots of action, punchy dialogue… it was disappointing. Usually, I try to make it a point to get to know the characters’ names by the end of the first episode, but I just couldn’t find anything unique about them or their lives to make it worth noting their names until the second episode. The operator’s name is Abby, the young buck’s name is… Buck. The cop’s name is Athena, the fire station captain’s name is Bobby.
Angela Basset and Tim Russ were the biggest name in the cast list, and the only ones I recognized. She played Athena, and he played a family therapist. Angela Basset is probably the best thing about this series, at this point.
Everything seemed rather predictable, naturally. But there was no tension. You can clearly see things coming, but there’s nothing to invest in emotionally. Basically, nothing to feel.
There is one really huge problem I have with this show. It’s that suicide seems to be their go-to rescue. In the first episode, there was only one jumper. But in episode two, oh my god. There were three attempts. At least one was successful (roller coaster guy). The second one got a successful intervention, while the third won’t be resolved until the next episode. It’s Athena’s daughter, who was having issues accepting her father’s coming out. At least, that’s what outwardly seemed to be this issue. But I’m sure that next week we will find out that there’s more to it and that her anger/embarrassment/angst over her father’s sexuality is all just a cover for whatever it is that’s really bothering her.
There was no real closure after the successful intervention rescue. However, there was a kind of unbalanced sense of closure after rollercoaster guy’s suicide. His sister at first angrily confronted young Buck when he went to the funeral (presumably to gain a sense of closure for himself, since this was the first one he lost), but she then later apologized and admitted that her brother had tried to kill himself once before.
For a show about emergencies and First Responders, there was no sense of urgency in any of this. There was no real tension or suspense. The personal dramas are issues that people deal with every day in real life. Stress levels that are displayed in the show just don’t seem on par with the actual stress that a person would actually feel in any of those situations. The characters’ emotional responses seem understated for the level of stress they are assumed to be experiencing. The closest it comes to conveying any kind of real emotional response to stress is Athena’s reaction to finding her daughter passed out on the floor in her bedroom with an open, empty pill bottle nearby. Again – Angela Basset is the best thing about this show so far.
Watching this show is like… well, it’s like when you have to run errands but your route is poorly planned and you end up cris-crossing town about 14 times. This show rushes you from one story to the next – yeah. Just like real life in a 9-1-1 dispatch center, but without the sense of urgency – just a sense of annoying boredom.
I’m rather disappointed with this series. I’ve been finding that Murphy/Falchuk projects are starting to lose my interest sooner rather than later. I tried to follow Glee after “The Quarterback,” but I lost interest. It’s like the whole cast and crew just… gave up. And I watched American Horror Story through season 4 (“Freakshow”). I tried to watch AHS: Hotel (season 5) but there were depictions of things I couldn’t handle and I lost interest in the story. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue watching 9-1-1 regularly. There’s just way too much going on, and that’s just too much like real life. I want to be entertained. I want to invest myself in the characters and the stories. I don’t want to watch people going through some of the same crap I am going through myself.
I’ll probably give it another try later in the season. But for right now, it’s not on my DVR list.
9-1-1 is on Fox Wednesdays at 9pm eastern/8pm central.