“A Million Little Things” returns this Thursday (March 11 at 10 p.m.) for a 14-episode run — after only four episodes aired last fall due to primetime’s juggling act triggered by the pandemic shutdown.
Thursday’s episode finds the show’s major characters dealing with COVID in different ways: Eddie’s (David Giuntoli) opioid dependency; Maggie’s (Allison Miller) romance with British roommate Jamie (Chris Geere); Rome’s (Romany Malco) new movie and his wife, Regina’s (Christina Moses), restaurant; and Gary’s (James Roday Rodriguez) relationship with Darcy (Floriana Lima).
“A Million Little Things” creator/executive producer DJ Nash spoke to The Post about what to expect for the rest of the season.
How does COVID effect this season’s arc?
Our show lives in authenticity. The fact that 16 people in the writers’ room were never in the same room, the fact that we have loved ones who died and we couldn’t make it to their funerals…that we had big birthdays celebrated over Zoom…there were so many things that we, as writers, experienced and so many ways our lives were different because of COVID. When you look at the show’s characters, if you’re in remission for cancer [Maggie] it puts you in a high-risk group and means being even more careful about quarantining; if you’re looking at chemical dependency [Eddie]…it seems like every issue of our show was intensified by COVID, so not to embrace it and look at it through that lens would be a huge missed opportunity. So many of our stories — Regina being a survivor of child sexual assault, Rome’s depression…make our audience feel “seen,” and I hope the COVID storylines do that, too.
What about Delilah (Stephanie Szostak)?
Delilah and her predicament is an active part of this season. I don’t want to give away her story, but it’s something we’re tracking. She’s torn between being there for a parent who’s elderly and needy and being there for her children. I loved the idea of putting Delilah in this predicament…where she feels like she’s coming up short on both sides.
Will the impact of Jon’s (Ron Livingston) suicide be felt less?
I think it’s going to change and be really true to what happens after a loved one has died. I think of my own friend who I lost [to suicide] and who was the inspiration for the show, of how I miss him and the relevance his passing plays into my life changes. Similarly, there are events that take place for [Jon’s children] Danny (Chance Hurstfield) and Sophie (Lizzy Greene), huge events where they’re aware that not only did their dad play a role in “helping me through this,” but “what would Dad think about what I did?” That’s ever-present, but they’ve all gotten to the point where they’re not forgetting and picking up the phone to call Jon. They know he’s gone. But they’re at that next stage, when reaching a milestone or when they least expect it [that] they’re reminded of him. It either inspires you or gut-punches you.
Do you consider Gary to be the show’s comic relief?
Gary sometimes goes to jokes for different reasons. He’s afraid of his emotions and so it’s a shield; he does it to help other people let their guard down; and then he does it just because he can’t help himself. We all have that friend who might push the limits of what you can say or do, but because they’re so well-intentioned and look out for us in every other way…it’s like, “Oh, OK, this is Gary.” I think James [Roday Rodriguez] and I see that in the same way. In our very first meeting, I was telling him that the story came from a real place, from a friend who died from suicide and that, in fact, we were supposed to have lunch the next week. James said, without missing a beat, “He really didn’t want to have lunch with you, did he?” I’d just met this guy and it was so raw. I said to myself, “That’s Gary — he’s never being mean but he’s not trying to be nice: he’s just trying to be honest.”