A Million Little Things

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
A Million Little Things TV Poster Image
Weepy drama explores mature themes like suicide, infidelity.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Friendship is like any other long-term relationship: It takes work to maintain it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Everyone in the group has their problems, but the suicide shown in the first episode causes the friends to reach out and show support for one another. Male characters are shown struggling with their emotions, and learning to share them openly.

Violence

Suicidal depression is a frequent topic, given that a main character dies by suicide in the pilot episode. (The death is not shown on-screen.)

Sex

A main character is having an extramarital affair -- the couple is seen together in bed, no nudity. Another couple have sex in a restroom; a reference is made to fake breasts, but clothing is kept on.

Language

Characters use words like "damn," "hell," "douche bag," and "balls."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking is seen in places like bars and at sporting events. A character is shown swallowing many prescription pills as part of a suicide attempt. One character is a recovering alcoholic struggling with his sobriety.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Million Little Things is a drama centered on a group of adults contending with the aftermath of a friend's suicide, as well as dealing with other mature issues such as alcoholism, cancer, and infidelity. Characters use words like "douche bag" and "balls," and there are sex scenes with lots of kissing and groping, though no nudity. Adults are shown drinking wine and beer in various settings, and a character is shown taking a large amount of prescription pills in an attempt to kill himself.

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What's the story?

A MILLION LITTLE THINGS follows a close-knit group of friends reeling from the news that one of their own has died by suicide. Creatively frustrated, wannabe movie-maker Rome (Romany Malco, Weeds) struggles with depression and his inability to share how he's feeling with his wife. Cynical cancer survivor Gary (James Roday, Psych) scoffs at the idea that "everything happens for a reason," and distracts himself with a new love interest. Stay-at-home dad Eddie (David Giuntoli, Grimm) is a washed-up musician and recovering alcoholic struggling in his marriage to wife Katherine (Grace Park, Hawaii Five-O), a successful lawyer. Together the friends try to understand why their de facto leader, generous and well-liked real estate honcho Jon (Ron Livingston, Office Space), would end his life -- and end up re-evaluating their own lives in the process.

Is it any good?

Examining the way men express their emotions (or more problematically, the way they don't) isn't a bad idea, but at this point in the pop culture landscape, using a suicide to do so feels a bit lazy. A Million Little Things is almost like something concocted in a laboratory -- a pastiche of other, better-written shows. Take the flashbacks, plot twists, and tear-jerking musical cues of This Is Us and add a healthy sprinkling of the flawed but mega-popular 13 Reasons Why, specifically its depiction of the bewildered loved ones left behind, baffled by their dead friend's dramatic and irrevocable choice.

The cast is capable enough, but there's no real gravitas to the proceedings, as predictable as they are. This Is Us succeeds because of the way it intertwines sadness and light, and the writing and performances make those relationships feel real -- the show earns its tears. In contrast, A Million Little Things feels like a calculated ploy to get audiences to cry, like it's just ticking off all the boxes of Serious Issues Adults Deal With™. Grief is a complicated subject, suicide perhaps even more so, and unfortunately the writing here just isn't up to the task.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the issues raised in A Million Little Things, such as depression. Why is it important to talk about mental health? How can outdated attitudes toward people (especially men) expressing their emotions interfere with people getting the help they may need? Do you think there is a stigma attached to talking about depression?

  • Talk about the way A Million Little Things depicts friendship, especially among couples. Are the characters and their decisions realistic? What about the consequences of those decisions?

TV details

For kids who love dramas

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