So, there is a new show that is coming out on the ABC network, beginning Sept. 26, called A Million Little Things, and I have a million little things to say about it.
I want it to have extremely low viewership and dismal ratings and be that show that no one remembers.
I want it to go far, far away.
But, as I have no pull whosoever with ABC or any other television network, I am afraid my worst fear will be realized. No one will hear my pleas. And even if they do, no one will care.
This show will go on.
And this girl will not soon recover.
Since it hasn’t debuted yet, the commercials are being run every 2.4 seconds.
I don’t watch a lot of live t.v., but I do watch football games in real time. I would categorize the show as a chick-flick, (I realize I am, in fact, a chick, but I am a chick who watches football and despises chick-flicks of all kinds and not just this one) and yet, these commercials are flooding the football time slots. I don’t know if ABC is trying to appeal to the large group of Southern women who love football because they think we all are chick-flick fans, too, or if it is trying to get the men across the country who love football and hate chick-flicks to tap into its inner sensitive sanctum and love theirs.
No matter the reason behind the strategy, the network is doing a bang up job of making its stupid commercials impossible to not see.
Impossible, I say.
They are everywhere.
There is no escaping A Million Little Things.
Without giving the show more publicity than it is already paying for, please let me tell you why I hate it with everything inside of me:
The subject matter is Leaving On Purpose. No brainer there. When you’ve lived it, you would rather have surgery with no anesthesia than watch a show about it….as, it is pretty much the same thing.
The plot seems to be about a woman and a close-knit group of friends after her husband, Jon, leaves on purpose and evidently, life is made up fo a “million little things.” So are friendships. I can buy into that.
What I can’t buy into is the way this show makes Leaving On Purpose awfully pretty.
Not an Ugly in the bunch.
Again, let me reiterate…I do everything I can to leave the room when these putrid commercials play. I fast-forward when I can, and when I can’t and am just stuck, I literally close my eyes and cover my ears. So, I can’t tell you what is going to happen, what has happened, what may happen throughout the course of this show.
What I can tell you is this: The second I found out about my daddy’s leaving, I looked like the walking dead (or so I’m told. I don’t remember much, and I certainly don’t remember what I looked like that day or immediately after, but I can well imagine) for months. Not moments. Not days. Not weeks. Months.
I remember seeing someone who loves me and who I love dearly on a day that I had actually managed to wash my hair and put on a smidgen of make-up, and he commented on how much better I looked that day. He meant it kindly; I took it kindly.
I realized that I looked like crap every day, but I didn’t give a damn.
So to see the made-up actors and actresses on this show sit around talking about The One Who Left, all made up, looking like they had 12 hours of sleep the night before….yeah. I’m disgusted.
Because that isn’t real life.
Real life is the ugly, puffy eyes after crying oneself to sleep, months after The One Who Left, left, and having to go to work or into a meeting or to take something to your mama, and your puffy eyes give yourself away, even though you deeply want to keep that bad night private. You don’t want to explain, you don’t want to lie, you don’t want them to worry, and you just flat don’t want them to know that you cried until your eyes were little slits the night before, but you finally fell asleep, and these bags are the result.
But they can’t be hidden, and instead, you wear your grief on your face: I cried so hard last night over that The One Who Left that I look like a small animal buried itself under my eyeballs today, and I can’t do anything about it. I’m sorry you have to see it, but here it is.
Here I am.
Ugly. Puffy. Disgusting. Real.
My hair is dirty because I don’t care.
My clothes are wrinkled because I don’t care.
I don’t care about much.
Because I’m a shell of a person, and putting on make-up, washing my hair, and making sure my clothes aren’t wrinkled takes energy that I don’t have.
Because I don’t live in a television show called A Million Little Things.
I feel pretty certain the producers, directors, actors, and even their potential audience thinks, “Good for them. Leaving On Purpose awareness. What a timely topic. We have Robin Williams. We have Kate Spade. We have Anthony Bourdain. So good of them to make a television show about this tragic phenomenon.”
They are wrong.
Every last one of them is wrong.
This show isn’t about Leaving on Purpose awareness.
It is about ratings.
This show isn’t about saving people.
It is about money.
Please don’t confuse the agenda.
It isn’t a wholesome one.
Leaving On Purpose may exist in Hollywood, but it looks way more like what I went through in Canton, Mississippi, even if it happened in Hollywood, than it looks on this repulsive show.
Nothing about The Leaving looks like this.
I want to throw up when I happen to catch the guy-bonding moments at the ballgame that equate to: “Why in the world would ‘Jon,’ a guy who had it all, do such a thing?”
They seem to glorify the “togetherness” of their tribe.
Wine glasses clinking while the girls sit on the couch.
Plastic cups full of beer knocking together in unison.
Toasting The One Who Left.
I wish he was still here.
Sure wish you had made a different decision, Buddy.
We are all real sad staring at your empty seat.
Can I please break my t.v. into A Million Little Pieces? That isn’t how it works. That isn’t how it works at all. Not even close.
And they damn sure should know that, if they had a heart or a brain.
That’s the Hollywood version of the tribe reaction to the Leaving On Purpose.
In real life, the tribe is nervous as hell, waiting in the wings, walking beside The Ones Left Behind with invisible arms outstretched, as a parent would do to a toddler learning to walk, ready to catch the one they are there to protect when they fall.
Because they are going to. That’s a given.
The tribe is not rambunctious. They are not vocal. They border on silent. They are waiting for their signal that it is okay to talk.
They are meeting away from The Ones Most Devastated to figure out how to help them the right way, how to be support staff. They are barely vocalizing their own emotions, because they have a job, and it isn’t to explore their own worries, fears, or grief.
It is to be The Tribe.
In real life, no one “toasts” anything. The Ones Left Behind try their best to get through The Next Millionth Thing unscathed, and The Tribe wouldn’t dare suggest a toast. They wouldn’t dare. If they did, they wouldn’t be in The Tribe.
And The Ones Left Behind somehow muddle through the next moment or the next hard thing with no cognizance that they are doing it, no awareness that they have just survived the next hard thing. They are concious that they are being held up by The Tribe, and they hope, in moments of clarity, they remembered to say thank you.
No one does any of it with a hearty “For Jon!”
We…the tribe and The Ones Left Behind…do it because we freaking have to, and we don’t like it. Not one single bit.
We aren’t toasting it.
We are trying to bear it.
And every single one of us does it differently.
So far, from what I can glean from the commercials, is that there are a lot of gatherings. There is crying on the couch. There is camaraderie.
But I wonder if the show will show the moments of shame, the moments that exist when The Ones Left Behind are so scared of how they feel, they don’t know what they are fixing to do. They know they aren’t going to do THAT–they would never do THAT—but they don’t know what is what is what.
They don’t know if they are fixing to lash out, lie on the floor and pound the ground, put on whatever wrinkled clothes they find lying around and drive to the grocery store, unable to remember the drive or what they came to buy or why they needed it. They don’t know if they are going to cuss out a stranger or start crying in the card aisle at Wal-Mart or turn over every proverbial rock in every place they know to look to find a semblance of an answer that may or may not give them an ounce of peace.
I feel pretty certain A Million Little Things will attempt a scene or two that will make its broken-hearted audience know that life is hard for The Ones Left Behind.
But I guarantee those scenes will be prettied-up figments of some writer’s imagination that they could not even slightly resemble the screwed up life of one of The Ones Left Behind.
Like going to a ball game with the Buddies Left Behind, and crying in the stands because there is an empty seat.
That’s such crap.
In real life, they wouldn’t be able to drive down the road that leads to the stadium because it hurts so damn much.
At least, not right after. Not a week after. Not a month after. Maybe not a year, 2 months and 24 days after.
Most definitely, not in the first episode.
Beyond, beyond, way beyond ridiculous.
I won’t watch, so I probably will never know the answer, but it will be interesting to see if A Million Little Things will attempt to show just how unbearable it is to live without answers to the questions of The Leaving with no note?
Will it show the darkest of dark moments experienced by The Ones Left Behind who are void of an answer?
Will it show any of The Ones Left Behind breaking things, wailing in the dark of night, screaming at the sky, and crawling on one’s hands and knees, begging for answers, begging for clarity, begging for The One Who Left to come back?
That would be WAY too Ugly.
That would be WAY too real.
This character, ole “Jon,” who did what my daddy did, seemed to have it all. He was smart, successful, and had friends and family who adored him. I guarantee, through the impossible-to-avoid commercials, somehow I will eventually discover that “Jon” had secrets. Those secrets will somehow give clarity to his widow and friends.
I’m calling it now, because it is too easy to predict. And I’ve become a master predictor. Human nature is incredibly transparent.
So is Hollywood.
So, I am betting these fictional characters will somehow get closure, and they will move on.
Because at the end of the day, there must be intrigue. There has to be some juice. There must be something to keep the tongues of those committed viewers wagging at the water cooler.
There will be answers because the show must go on.
A Million Little Things must survive, so “Jon” and his secrets will come to life and be a character on the show. He will exist when he doesn’t exist.
In real life, in non-Hollywood world, there are no answers, and the One Who Left doesn’t exist.
He never will again.
Sometimes, answers may actually exist, but The Ones Left Behind have no idea what they are, and they have no way of finding out what they could have been or might be.
Sometimes, not on a sitcom, The Ones Left Behind wish they just had some answers, any damn answer, no matter how unpalatable, because they feel like they are living in a freaking John Grisham novel, but they don’t have chapters with names or numbers. There are just scenes that leave The Ones Left Behind wanting more, but the ending won’t come.
There isn’t anything beyond the mental gymnastics that they unwillingly perform because they are trying to figure out how in the name of Zeus the most laid-back man on the planet who happens to be their daddy/husband/father-in-law/brother/employer/friend suddenly became “depressed” and left them on purpose.
The absurdity is novel-worthy.
Except it isn’t.
Because it is real.
It isn’t Hollywood-worthy, either.
It’s just propaganda from a bunch of rich people trying to get richer by preying on the emotions of those who have never experienced anything even close.
At the end of the day, real people like my daddy leave on purpose, and we are all here to pick of the pieces of learning how to live with The Leaving, wondering how much of it was our fault, wondering what we could have done to stop it, wondering what we didn’t know, wondering….wondering….wondering.
There are just A Million Little Things that keep us wondering.
And there is no script to follow.
There is no director telling us when and how to cry.
Personally, I just cry because I can’t help it, often at very inopportune moments….like, when I am with my children and the damn commercial for A Million Little Things comes on, and, inadvertently, as I’m trying to escape the television set, I hear the dude say over the telephone, “Jon killed himself.” And this hyper-awareness comes over me…this sickening understanding that, even though I wasn’t told that way….A Million Little People were. They got that same phone call. Charles killed himself. It was happening all over town, all over the state, in other parts of the country, across the ocean.
And it changed A Million Little Lives forever.
And every time I hear him say it on that damn commercial, it feels like it is happening all over again.
People are starting to find out. People are starting to gather. People are beginning to make their way to us. They are scared. They are scared of what they will find. They are scared of seeing our distorted faces. They are scared of seeing shock up close and personal.
Because they know they will never be the same again, after they see us.
Up close, and personal.
Ugly and real.
So to end my list of why I hate this show and hope it dies a miserable television death, I will speak directly to it:
A Million Little Things, you are nothing more than a chance to capitalize on a never-ending reality for everyday folks who have lived it, by making those who haven’t, invest in fictional characters, and cry, and feel so thankful they never have to know about The Leaving, so that ABC will get huge ratings and it will be the champion of educating the public, pretending to attempt to prevent anyone who is contemplating Leaving On Purpose from doing so.
In reality, you will be breaking the hearts and insulting the real, ugly lives of all of us who have actually lived through a Leaving On Purpose. You are catapulting The Ones Left Behind back to a place we never imagined we would go, never wanted to go, and certainly never want to revisit and yet, you take us back to that horrid, sordid place over and over and over and over and over again.
To be a survivor of a no-note Leaving On Purpose is the culmination of a dark, lonely, confusing, guilt-laden, heart-aching Million Little Things that will never be able to be conveyed truly, properly, authentically, or realistically by actors in Hollywood through a sitcom on ABC.
Those tears will be saline drops.
A make-up artist will be touching up the cheeks of the fake Ones Left Behind between shoots. A stylist will make sure the designer clothes chosen for them will have no wrinkles.
There will be no puffy eyes.
There will be laughs when the camera quits rolling.
And the fake One Who Left On Purpose will be hanging around the set, drinking coffee, anxiously awaiting his cameo.
You want to see the aftermath of a real Leaving On Purpose, ABC?
Come to my house on a Tuesday night when I’ve been subjected to your commercial one too many times.
Come see that.
Come witness my ten-year-old try to work the remote as fast as he can so that he doens’t have to see his mama lose it in front of him.
Come see it up close.
Come see the Ugly.
Come see the Real.
If you saw that, and you realized how catastrophic the wreckage your show was going to bring, you may not make a boatload of money.
So, I won’t hold my breath.
But I sure as hell won’t watch.
I hope whoever is reading this won’t either.
A Million Little Things, I hope you fade into the night.
And when you do, I hope those nights are sleepless.
Then, you may get to experience a mere one of the Million Little Reasons as to why your show is bullshit.