A few weeks ago my husband and I were watching the new Fox series 9-1-1 and 9-1-1 operator Abby Clark (Connie Britton) and firefighter Buck (Oliver Stark) were talking in Abby’s kitchen. They had just found Abby’s elderly and frail mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and had wandered away from home. Abby is filled with relief and gratitude that young Buck (who is a young buck) has helped her.
I said to my husband, “They are totally going to sleep together right now.” My husband denied this, “Her mentally addled mother’s right in the next room! The door is open!” But see my husband is not a Ryan Murphy connoisseur. He didn’t watch Glee or more importantly Nip/Tuck. He thinks of Ryan Murphy as the man behind American Crime Story.
Then Buck left Abby’s apartment and my husband sat there smugly as I wondered how my powers of TV prediction could have been so off. But a miraculous thing happened—Buck called Abby on the phone and before the episode was over the pair had phone sex. I knew Ryan Murphy wouldn’t let me down.
Behold the glories of 9-1-1. As that old Saturday Night Live skit goes, this show has everything. A gay husband who has decided to come out of the closet a decade into his marriage. An ex-girlfriend in jail. A firefighter responsible for killing his entire family in—wait for it— a fire. A sex addict. A man with a pole through his brain.
Ostensibly about how a 9-1-1 operator, the fire department and the police all come together to save lives in Los Angeles, what 9-1-1 truly offers is a magnificent escape from the world and its problems.
The show is decidedly in the so-bad-its-awesome camp. An early episode found Buck, traumatized over not being able to save someone, seeing the department therapist. The department therapist is played by Autumn Reeser of The O.C. so naturally, Buck promptly sleeps with her in her office.
The show is taking a break until February 28 but you can catch up on all the episodes online. I’m here to convince you that this trashy show is spectacular and that you must immediately begin watching this nonsense. How is it awesome? Let’s count the ways:
A man falling from an amusement park roller coaster. A pilot sending his girlfriend into cardiac arrest with his proposal. A floor that collapses in the middle of a wedding reception. A newborn baby stuck in a pipe. Murphy goes big or he goes bigger with his disasters which also showcase his decidedly skewered sense of humor. The Valentine’s Day episode featured jilted girlfriend who chopped up her date with a butcher knife and then super-glued him back together.
Look Coach’s wife always deserved better than Nashville where she was stuck in a perpetual “can’t help loving that man of mine” love triangle. Here she gets to have a romance with a much younger man while everyone talks about how fabulous her hair is. Britton’s hair is fabulous and we should be celebrating it. Oh and when she and Buck went on their first real date, he choked on a piece of bread and nearly died. She had to perform an emergency tracheotomy. It was fantastic.
I spend half the episode wondering, “What is Angela Bassett doing here?” And the other half going, “Thank God Angela Bassett is here!” Bassett is one of those fabulous actors who makes everything she’s in infinitely better. Here as police officer Athena Grant she’s been saddled with a story line of a husband (Rockmond Dunbar) who has been recently come out as gay and is in a relationship all while still being married to Athena. Still Athena suffers no fools. She was held hostage by the aforementioned jilted girlfriend and her big piece of advice is, “You girls need to do better at picking men.”
So Abby and Buck are dating (kind of) but while Abby is sitting vigil at Buck’s bedside after he nearly choked to death, troubled fire chief Bobby Nash (Peter Krause) walks in. Soon they both leave Buck’s hospital room to go have a cup of coffee. First of all, I feel like Britton and Krause should have been on a TV series together long ago (maybe because they were both in Jason Katims shows?). Secondly Bobby is broken, damaged. He was addicted to drugs when he accidently set fire to the apartment building his wife and two children were sleeping in. Of course Abby and Bobby are going to start a relationship. Of course they are.
On Murphy’s Glee the characters were routinely able to pull together Broadway level productions complete with complex choreography and elaborate costume within a matter of days. Similar leaps in logic happen here—except this time it truly is a matter of life or death. When the pilot’s girlfriend goes into cardiac arrest and he calls 9-1-1, Abby is able to call the woman’s doctor and find out what medication she’s on. I’m put on hold just when I try to make a doctor’s appointment but okay. Much like 24, the characters move around a Los Angeles that rarely sees traffic. Athena is put on desk duty after she arrests the girl who has been cyber bullying her daughter but she’s back in action the following week. Chimney (Kenneth Choi) gets a mental spike through his brain and is back at work weeks later with just a little, tiny tiny scar. Buck was fired for gross insubordination but then his heroism got him instantly re-hired.
Have I convinced you? I hope so. All episodes of 9-1-1 are currently available on Hulu and On Demand. You must check them out. The show returns with new episodes on February 28 on Fox.