'A Million Little Things' Continues to Impress As it Tackles Cancer, Complex Grief, and Depression

A MILLION LITTLE THINGS - "fight or flight" - Recurring nightmares force Maggie to face a life-altering trauma from her past, while in real life, the group finally discovers that her cancer is back. Gary seeks help from an unexpected someone in order to make one final attempt at convincing Maggie to get treatment, but everything comes to a head at Regina and Delilah's first tasting party at the new restaurant, leaving this circle of friends to wonder if things will ever be the same, on an all-new episode of "A Million Little Things," WEDNESDAY, NOV. 28 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/David Bukach) JAMES RODAY, ALLISON MILLER

It’s still only the first season of A Million Little Things and yet the show has already covered so much ground.

I’ve been impressed with A Million Little Things ever since the pilot episode (you can read my original review here). And since then, it had yet to disappoint. Like similar ensemble dramas (namely This is Us and Parenthood), the show takes on a lot of tough topics all at once. But what makes Little Things a standout is just how well it handles each and every one of those topics. Below, a few of the best moments from this season so far.

The Stigma of Depression

Even before John dies by suicide, Rome is dealing with a very serious case of depression. And although he even tried to kill himself, Rome really struggles to reach out for help. Watching Rome slowly overcome the stigma of depression — which can be especially debilitating for Black men — feels extremely real and raw. He resists recovery at every moment, from therapy to medication. But even after he turns a corner, he still struggles with telling his family, especially his father.

But perhaps the best part of Rome’s story is everything that goes unsaid. It’s the little moments where you see Rome trying so hard to get well, from his attempts to take control of his career to his decision to commit to his treatment plan, that really make the storyline believable. And, of course, Romany Malco’s incredible performance doesn’t hurt.

a million little things depression
ABC/Jack Rowand
The Complexities of Grief

If you’ve never personally experienced the loss of someone close to you, it may be hard to appreciate just how accurate A Million Little Thing‘s depiction is.

As someone who lost their father to cancer, I see my grief in every one of the character’s journeys, especially Maggie’s. Maggie recently admitted to her complex feelings on her brother’s death and how she has refused to deal with her emotions for years.

So many people think that grief is just an immediate response to death, that it goes away eventually. Trust me, it doesn’t. Grief lasts a lifetime and it can take a while for you to process your feelings, let alone figure out exactly how you’re feeling in the first place.

a million little things cancer
ABC/David Bukach
Cancer Doesn’t End With Remission

I often have a huge problem with how cancer is portrayed on television. Shows love to use cancer as a storyline for a season and then once the character recovers, they move on like nothing ever happened. (Related: My Take on Jane the Virgin‘s Cancer Plotline).

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Even when you’re in remission, there is always the fear that it could return any time. You could be well for years and years and yet your cancer could always return. Is this terrifying? Absolutely. But is it real life? Yeah. And it sucks.

So to see Gary and see him constantly checking himself for cancer and still struggling with his surgery scar even though it’s been a year, well, it just feels right to me.

Not to mention that James Roday truly brings the story to life. His emotions are constantly written all over his face in nearly every scene. And watching his anger erupt as he realizes his best friend isn’t there to celebrate his one-year anniversary was incredibly emotional.

A Million Little Things airs on ABC Wednesdays at 10 PM.


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Photo: ABC/David Bukach

Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.