Unlike This Is Us, which starts out very warm and fuzzy, A Million Little Things took the opposite approach and starts out very depressing. In fact 40 minutes into the 45 minute show Ashley and I were almost ready to give up on the show because it was very depressing and didn’t have a clear direction. In the final 5 minutes, it flips on its head with some touching moments and some startling revelations that sets this show up for a very interesting season ahead.
A Million Little Things had its ups and downs, but it had a lot of downs. This spring, NBC tried again with The Village. The Village started out the opposite of A Million Little Things. Where A Million Little Things went for a start in the emotionally sad and slowly built up, The Village went for an emotional high start.
The common issue though with both is that they try to lay out all of their cards up front. For me, what was special about This is Us was that it started out as a pretty normal show that at the end of the premiere it revealed that these people were all a family, and that Jack, was actually a flashback and he was the father of the other people you were watching. At the end of episode 2, it chose to begin to up the stakes by revealing that Jack, is no longer alive in present day. The mystery begins, what happens to Jack and how did the family get to where they are. Over the course of the last 3 seasons they slowly reveal various things like people having depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, struggling to be parents, marital challenges and even the challenges of pregnancy. These things, however, were not dished out in one or even two episodes.
The challenge with all of these This is Us "copycat" shows, they want to reveal all of their interesting ideas in the first one or two episodes as if to say "look at all of our interesting and emotionally gripping characters". It feels heavy handed and it makes it difficult to really get interested in the characters as people rather than as representatives of various human ailments and issues.
In Season 1 of The Village, it explores being a single parent, unexpected pregnancy, illegal immigration, battling cancer, PTSD, loss of a child, finding love after losing a marriage partner, and dealing with family issues. These are all very interesting ideas but at times it feels like these issues speak louder than the characters themselves, which is hard to overcome. But I had to say, an aptly named finale episode title "I Have Got You", was the best episode of the entire season. Is it worth it to watch an entire season of 10 episodes just for the build up of a wonderful single episode finale? Maybe. Maybe it's because now that I'm a father, parental moments in tv shows can tear my heart out, but remembering the final episode of Season 1 doesn't have an inner emotional reaction. So I guess after 9 episodes of challenges, they nailed the final episode. If it's renewed for Season 2, I'll probably watch it, because the finale has given me faith that these characters might be finding their place after a slow start.
Should you watch it? I guess the question is if you have the patience to allow the characters to find their footing over the course of the first season.