Fix: Adrenaline Junkies, Lovers of Fromage, Survival Geeks, Found Families, Sometimes You Need A Good Cry
Explores the high-pressure experiences of the first responders who are thrust into the most frightening, shocking, and heart-stopping situations.
After six seasons, I feel like 9-1-1 has probably already reached its target audience—BUT. Perhaps you are like me, someone who enjoys cheesy disaster movies and tried this show out in Season 1 and quit because it was so, SO over the top, especially when in the first episode that one himbo firefighter took a firetruck out just to have sex on it and then also ended up sleeping with his job-mandated therapist after said truck stealing. WTF, am I right?
I didn’t come back to the show until season 3 and my coworker-friend said I absolutely had to watch. Since she’s never given me a bad recommendation, I put my trust in her—and she was totally right. The first few episodes are a bit rough as the writers struggle to find their voice, but when they start putting less focus on the himbo and allow the ensemble cast to shine is when it gets good.
Why I love 9-1-1 and you should too:
- That himbo firefighter? He actually gets a solid dressing down and legit works on his issues. At one point we surprised ourselves by saying, wow, we actually kind of like him now!? Characters have nice growth arcs and home lives peppered amongst the rescue sequences. I love that they normally end the season finales with something happy like a wedding or a party versus some dire cliffhanger.
- The show truly does celebrate diversity in both its main cast and guest victims-of-the-week. They also tackle tough or controversial topics in a (usually) sensitive and thoughtful manner without getting too Afterschool Special about it.
- It revels in its own cheesiness. It KNOWS these situations are outlandish and we aren’t trying for 100% reality; even the characters acknowledge the really weird calls, but the writers also know when to balance that with the serious and quieter moments. I can go from laughing to crying in a single episode.
- This may be a plus or minus for you, depending on how much “reality” you want in your show, but I kind of appreciate they put their main cast in harrowing situations but rarely actually kill them off. I’ve invested a lot of watch-time with these people; I don’t need them to die on me for the sake of the “story”! (Yes, I also get annoyed when people complain that it’s “unrealistic” that all the kids on Stranger Things are still alive. Not everything needs to be Game of Thrones.)
L-R: Oliver Stark as Buck, Peter Krause as Bobby, Ryan Guzman as Eddie, Kenneth Choi as Chimney, and Aisha Hinds as Hen
Peter Krause is the biggest and most recognizable name here, and Krause is perfect as the “dad” of the group. I tend to enjoy Bobby more when he isn’t dealing with his own drama as he is during the first two seasons, especially when he hooks up with a certain character (like I didn’t think it’d work but I love them as a couple and their home life so much). Buck is the himbo with a heart of gold, and Eddie comes in season 2 as his single-dad BFF who he has AMAZING chemistry with, and it’s truly a shame that their story has not consisted of them realizing they romantically love each other. Chimney is probably one of my favorite characters; he is an adorable little muffin and I will entertain no Chimney slander. Hen is the coolest cucumber of the group and is married to
Joanne Karen, played by Tracie Thoms, whose rocket-scientist character eventually wins me over.
L-R: Marcanthonee Reis as Harry Grant, Angela Basset as Athena Grant, Corrine Massiah as May Grant, and Rockmond Dunbar as Michael Grant
When we discuss this show, my coworker and I usually turn into an Angela Basset fan club because the woman is so gorgeous, and we love Athena even though she is massively stubborn and always goes into situations without backup. She’s the only cop featured on the show, and I know we’ve got way too many fantasy “good guy cops” on TV, but I can’t hate on Basset’s portrayal of Athena. She’s a well-developed character. I also really love how they played out her family situation (at the start of the show Michael has revealed he’s gay and she’s absolutely destroyed, but it turns into such a beautiful storyline).
Connie Britton as Abby, Jennifer Love Hewitt as Maddie
Finally: it wouldn’t be the same without our 911 operators! Of Friday Night Lights fame, Connie was a big draw to the show for me initially, although I’ll warn you she’s only in the first season and, honestly, Abby is a bit of a sad sack (see: even her hair is sad). She begins an unlikely romance with Buck after they connect over a tough 911 call and is part of him gaining some maturity.
JLH arrives in season 2 to fill Connie’s 911 operator shoes as Buck’s wayward older sister, a former nurse on the run from her past. I have residual love for JLH from her roles in, well, like everything in the ‘90s/’00s, and she makes the perfect “OMG I’m so concerned for your safety” faces when on emergency calls.
Couch-Sharing Capability: High
This is a show that requires conversation, so either watch with someone or have a friend who doesn’t mind you when you text them random things like, “There is NO WAY they would’ve survived that tsunami wave!!” or “Why am I sobbing right now over a character dying whom we’ve only known for three minutes?!”
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Make It A Game
This is a show that also begs for a drinking game, so go for it: you’re not on-call! Sip when someone survives some ridiculous high-stakes scenario like a bouncy castle blows off a cliff or a piece of rebar through the forehead; pour one out when someone doesn’t survive (sob); chug during any cheesy montages of the rescue team; and finish your drink when Athena and Hen get together because they are the cutest and most supportive besties (the episode when Athena has to call Hen because she gets stuck in her own handcuffs during sexy time? Hilarious).
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Excellent
I am surprised by how much I like this silly little show, but it’s managed to worm its way into my good graces. Not every storyline is an absolute winner, but what they do right makes the rest worth it.
Word to the wise: If you’ve binged all of 9-1-1: Original Recipe and you’re considering its Texas-based spin-off, 9-1-1: Lone Star (or 9-1-1: Yeehaw, as we call it in my house), well…I gotta say it is the perfect example of how this type of show CAN go wrong and why OG 9-1-1 is actually good, very much proving all my points above. It’s TOO cheesy in a cringey way, there’s too much singular focus on Rob Lowe’s character instead of the ensemble (which is also very diverse but feels more hollow because they don’t get nearly enough screentime/personality), and the storylines are boooring. (The only good characters are Grace and Judd as the cutest couple and Gina Torres as Tommy.)
6 thoughts on “9-1-1 (Seasons #1-6)”
Color me intrigued. I’ve recently binged all of the FBIs, and they’re terrible. I am all for more. ;P
I feel like we often like many similar TV shows, so I think you’ll dig it!
My absolute favorite show, both in spite of and because of the silliness and the drama.
Also, if you don’t love season 1, stick around for season 2, because having Eddie and Maddie around makes the show so much better. And Christopher!!! My favorite
I agree that season 2 is really where the show begins to shine (season 1 is only 10 episodes anyway, so it was finding its footing as a mid-season replacement show). How did I forget to mention Christopher!! (Probably because I was trying to keep myself from rambling for 2K words lol) Christopher is such an adorable nugget and definitely the best part of Eddie showing up (and Carla! I also love that she still pops in every now and again).
I agree with every single word you’ve written.
The growth that Buck goes through, especially with regards to Christopher, is just amazing. It would be so easy to make his character a dude-bro, but I love that he’s probably the most openly emotional guy on the show. And props to the show/make-up department for NOT hiding his birthmark.
So true, Buck definitely wears his heart on his sleeve, and I do appreciate that about him! I love his relationship with Christopher.