Will "A Million Little Things" Give Us the Childfree Character We’ve Been Waiting For?
If you haven’t been watching A Million Little Things on ABC, you should start now. It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Now that you’re caught up, we have something very important to talk about: Rome and Gina.
A Million Little Things is some combination of family drama and twisting mystery. Its first season finale titled “Goodbye” wrapped up a few loose ends and frayed a few others. Actors Romany Malco and Christina Moses (above) play Rome and Gina, a creative power couple with Issues.
The show centers around Jon Dixon, played by the always affable Rob Livingston. He is the glue that holds a rag-tag group of friends together, or so it seems. I admit, I started watching it because two actors from other shows, David Giuntoli from Grimm and James Roday from Psych, were in the cast. I tend to be loyal to people I love from other shows.
It was a good decision, because the first five minutes of the pilot had me totally hooked.
The thing is, Jon Dixon isn’t really in the show at all. His memory is, but he appears like a specter in flashbacks after his death from mysterious circumstances.
His actual death isn’t a mystery, viewers know from the start how that happens, but the circumstances around it are. And the show does an masterful job of weaving the tear-jerking drama with the deep dark mystery, revealing only bread crumbs at a time.
Instead, the story focuses on the surviving friends and family including Jon’s three best friends: Rome, Eddie, and Gary. Rome is married, childfree, and living with depression. Eddie is a former rock and roll star whose marriage is falling apart because he was sleeping with Jon’s wife (!). And Gary is a charming cancer survivor who just met the love of his life.
But, none of that recap is why you’re reading.
The headline drew you in, right? Is Regina the childfree character we’ve been waiting for?
All along, the series teased that Regina and her husband Rome were childfree by choice. Several times it was mentioned that they agreed they weren’t having kids when they got married. Their partnership begins to unravel when Rome rethinks their decision. He shares his feelings with his wife, Gina, in the first season finale.
Every childfree by choice woman can relate to the conversation these characters have while shopping for a new car. Rome is having second thoughts about being child free. He believes a child could give him the meaning he’s been missing in his life. And Regina asks, like so many of us, “But what if it doesn’t?”
The show ends on a cliffhanger (or a whole bunch of them) when Jon’s widow is rushed to the hospital to give birth to her own baby.
Oh, wait, did I forget to mention that she’s pregnant with Eddie’s baby but everyone thinks its Jon’s? This show is seriously a roller coaster.
Near the end of the Season One finale, Rome doubles down on his new fantasy of fatherhood. “This could be us. I don’t want to look back and say I didn’t do stuff that I wanted to do.” He confesses this to Regina as she’s about to follow her best friend into the delivery room.
Regina’s response is glorious:
“I want to give you everything you want, I do. But I don’t want this.”
The words hang in the air, building drama, but I practically stood up and cheered. Here’s a woman strong in her convictions, doesn’t want children, and isn’t willing to do something so momentous just for the sake of someone else.
We’ve seen so many other shows pay lip service about characters choosing to be childfree. Then they’re written into motherhood later on with the expectation that it’s a choice everyone will make eventually. (see Bernadette, The Big Bang Theory, CBS)
It’s refreshing to see television's take what it really means to be committed to the choice. (What about the character of Penny on Big Bang? Let's see how that show ends.)
My only hope is the writers don't take away Gina's agency with an easy "baby" story line. Make her show that women who don’t want children actually know themselves well enough to make that decision. There is plenty of other made-for-TV drama in this show that she can stay true to herself.
Please, ABC, don’t let Regina have a baby.