'9-1-1': Ryan Murphy's Star-Studded Drama Makes The Procedural Personal

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29 December 2017

FOX, Jan. 3, 9:00 PM ET

By Lori Acken

We all know the drill. Something bad happens? Call 9-1-1.

But then what? Who’s behind the voice that takes the frantic call? Who do they call next? And  how do those first responders deal daily with a life-and-death job when they’re finally off the clock?

American Crime Story’s Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk set out to explore the lifesaving entity we often take for granted in their new drama called, yes, 9-1-1.

9-1-1, which premieres Wednesday, reunites Murphy and Falchuk with their American Horror Story alumni Angela Bassett and Connie Britton, who play policewoman Athena Grant and call-center operator Abby Clark, respectively.

Underground’s Aisha Hinds costars as Athena’s pal and confidante Henrietta “Hen” Wilson, the only female firefighter in her squad. And Peter Krause rounds out the core cast as Hen’s compassionate but driven boss Bobby Nash. The series expertly blends the drama — and sometimes humor — of the emergent situations and the gratification the job affords the first responder with the wreckage it can leave in their personal lives and perpetually tested souls.

“What you never think about is that they go right on to the next emergency,” says Bassett, who co-executive produces. “They don’t know ‘How does it end? What’s the outcome? What happened to that baby, that woman, that man — did they make it, did they not?’ … What’s interesting about our show is that we see that there are real and perceived emergencies in their lives — not just the hero and the person in distress. We’re all just trying to do the best that we can to get through the day.”

For Bassett’s Athena, that also means dealing with the upheaval the stresses of her job have put on her faltering marriage to her architect husband and life at home with their two kids. But, she says, for Krause’s Nash, the rescuer may truly need rescuing.

“Whatever Athena or Hen are dealing with, at least they have each other to talk to, to share, to vent,” Bassett offers. “But Bobby, he really holds his secrets and his demons in, because it’s so dark and has been so devastating to his life. Someone very dear to him perished and he had a hand in it, unbeknownst to him, just by the choices that he made for his own life. So, the only light is the work that he does daily. Saving others. Reaching out. Putting his life on the line and coming to the rescue.”
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