A Million Little Things spent the hour addressing how the characters were doing in the wake of George Floyd's death.
There will likely be many whining about escapism on a series that's entire premise from the beginning has been addressing real-life, everyday issues ranging from suicide and depression to infidelity, cancer, and more.
However, assuming one looks at A Million Little Things Season 3 Episode 13 objectively, they'd conclude that the hour was relatively understated given the subject matter.
I'd even argue that AMLT could've taken the gloves off and dug deeper. But my God, they still nailed some of the conversation. Rome perfectly summing up that being Black in this country feels like being an unwanted guest in your own home left me breathless with its profoundness.
The series did a decent job of interweaving previous storylines and history into this hour and connecting feelings from then until now.
Gina's identity issues and the long-lasting repercussions of growing up biracial in a predominately white area with a white mother who just didn't get it -- naturally cropped up.
Tyrell: Well, I think the people in charge need to see that our lives matter from as many people as possible. I read an article about George Floyd's daughter. Her mom is trying to figure out how to tell her how he died. I mean, how do you explain that to a seven-year-old?
Rome: Six. His daughter is six.
These are the type of issues that don't ever go away.
Realistically, some days or situations will drudge all of that up again, and that was touched on beautifully with Gina's guilt over not being as socially engaged or feeling as though she doesn't have a place in the fight against Black injustice.
Naturally, the racial consciousness of the moment prompted Eddie to think about how aloof he's been as a white parent with an Asian-American family.
He was guiltridden and embarrassed that he didn't realize the mask racial microaggression Theo faced in his Zoom class for what it was, and the addition of Alan managed to cut into that further in a natural way.
Alan is Asian-American, too, and for a moment, Eddie was conscious of his race and felt displaced in his family when a protestor innocently assumed that Theo was Alan's son rather than Eddie's.
Following the introduction of Gary's father, Gary got to semi-address his racial identity issues. He also touched on the complicated self-hate, for lack of better terminology, as a white-passing Mexican-American who assumed an Americanized moniker rather than sticking to his ethnic birth name -- his father's name.
And the tension that arose between him and Rome was a natural extension of that racially charged incident that landed both of them in the back of a police car during A Million Little Things Season 2 Episode 11.
It was a wonderful reminder that A Million Little Things has the material, much of it to draw from here.
Rome: You understand that this isn't my protest right?
Gary: Uh, yeah. Yeah, that's why we're going.
Rome: Well, please tell me you get that this is work that we all need to do, so you need to do more than hitting up your Black friend so you can be their plus one, Gary.
Gary: Uh, yeah. I'm just trying to help.
Rome: And the last time you tried to help, I ended up in the back of a police car.
They were organically able to weave in all of the things we've known and learned about the characters over time because of the series' commitment to addressing all the little intricacies of everyday life for a diverse group of individuals.
In that sense, it didn't feel forced.
The series did the work before; they had the foundation to work with to draw its parallels. Thus, the hour didn't feel as if it was " A Very Special Episode About Racism," as has become the case with far too many other shows just now choosing to address such subject matter because of a collective, global reckoning.
Yes, the show has the material in spades, but sometimes the main gripe is that they don't devote enough time to expanding on some of it. The Howards shouldn't be the only characters who have extensive storylines dedicated to the topic of race and culture.
They do well addressing a plethora of issues, even those that one typically doesn't see explored with any form of nuance on network television with a series that isn't exclusively considered "a Black show."
But the intricacies of an interracial family like the Savilles have often been too understated, bordering on nonexistent.
We rarely, if ever, see the potential feelings that Theo may have as a biracial child who visibly appears Asian. They've never delved into the possible cultural clash moments Katherine may have experienced as a Korean-American woman married to Midwestern White Eddie.
As a devoted father, they've barely scratched the surface of Eddie feeling out of his depth or uncomfortable with race and how to navigate it as a white parent and spouse.
Oh, there is a treasure trove of material to explore for Gary. They barely tapped into it, sprinkling bits along the way but never diving right into unpacking all the things they could explore with a White-Passing Mexican-American man with an Anglo-Saxon first name, Latin Surname, and Brown father.
Hell, think of all the possible conversations that he and Gina alone could have about their similar sentiments but wildly different experiences growing up biracial if our beloved Gary could ever get past layers of humor and jokes to have such a vulnerable conversation.
And imagine the Uncle Gary moments he could have with Theo. For the Howards, it's a Tale of Two Bostons on occasion, and the series does well with that, but for the others, it's oddly utopian for such a diverse group of individuals, and hell, these are things that naturally come up in daily life.
But it seems, with this hour, the series called itself to the carpet a bit with this. I imagine it's why characters like Eddie and Gary were having a semblance of awakenings.
And it delights me to presume that Gary's moment of clarity and vulnerability with Darcy, getting into the story of how he shed Javier Mendez and became Gary Mendez, was inspired by Jame Roday Rodriguez's own moment of vulnerability he publically shared in the wake of Floyd and all the social change.
Darcy: Hey, can I ask you something? Your dad calls you junior, and during that talent show they called you Javi. I call you Gary. What's up with that?
Gary: Yeah, that's fair. I was born Javier Mendez Jr. I am my father's son, and I am proud of it. As you've recently experienced, there is a lot of my dad in me. But unlike him, people don't assume I'm Mexican ever, until they meet my dad.
One appreciates how this show pulls from the very real experiences of those who work on the series. It makes everything they do this labor of love, pouring themselves into the work and bearing their hearts, bleeding on the proverbial canvas, if you will.
The Howards were at the forefront, and the series attempted to address the generational differences in how the Black community reacts to these deaths, protests, and social unrest.
Walter is senior-aged and jaded. He saw the photos of Emmett Till growing up, and he experienced some of the worst that racism has to offer over the years.
His experience as a Vietnam vet was striking only because of how surreal it was for Black soldiers who went overseas to fight in war only to come home to a country that still treated them like less than second-class citizens.
Florence is also senior-aged, but she had years of experience protesting for change, and it's deeply ingrained in her. She believes that every protest -- everything she did back then and does now matters and makes a difference.
Rome felt caught in the middle of not knowing what to think or what to do, and it must be difficult knowing that his father fought these battles, and he faces these experiences, and he's looking upon Tyrell, the younger generation, and it's still the same damn fight.
But he brought an interesting perspective as someone who battled suicide ideations. He didn't want to protest and see and experience things that could bring that darkness back into his life. He cited an example of someone who took his life months after Ferguson.
It's admirable that he considered his mental health. But he also didn't stop Gina or Tyrell from attending.
Rome: There are police out there looking for a reason to take your life. Young man, do not give them a reason. Your job is not to be a hero today. Your job is to come home.
Tyrell: OK. I'll be careful.
Rome: Good. Now go change the world.
Rome's speech to Tyrell about not giving the cops any reason to shoot him was a heartbreaking but raw and real one, and with each passing moment the Howards spend with Tyrell, it feels right that they've adopted this teen rather than a newborn.
Tyrell has the youthful, hopeful edge, where he genuinely believes that they can initiate real change with protesting. The hour touched on the diverse opinions that crop up among the community on things of this nature. It dispels the myth that the Black community is a monolith.
Everyone had different opinions and thoughts, but they could agree on supporting one another.
Walter didn't believe in protest, but he wanted to be there for Rome, and he knew it was something that Rome needed. He also needed to be there for Gina, and it killed him inside when he wasn't there in time to keep her from getting hurt.
Florence and Walter had different opinions, but she reassured him that she didn't dislike him for his time in Vietnam, and she opened up about her brother, who never made it back. She disagreed with why we were there, but she felt that her protesting back then brought them home.
Florence is such a lovely addition to the series, and she fits in beautifully. She had many shining moments, but none more than when she told Gina that this fight is hers too -- Gina has a place, too. Her Blackness matters and is relevant, too.
Moses has been killing it this season, and her scenes with Florence were a prime example. Although, it was equally as precious when she joked about marrying the nurse, as was Rome telling her that he now knows what it was like for Regina when she found his letter.
They continue to be goals.
And credit where it's due, Gary and Darcy are a great couple.
I've got a lot of my own stuff that I've been avoiding for a long time, and I want to deal with it. Coming here is a start, a start of me trying to do better. You're right, today's protest is not just for you, it's for me too. I know that. And that's why I got to tell you that I'm very, very disappointed that you weren't there for me, man.Gary
Darcy was the one who prompted Gary to open up about his past and the name change. If not for that crucial moment and Gary's conversation with Rome at the end, Gary's time spent cracking jokes to lighten the mood could not have been more ill-placed and irksome.
It's fascinating to find out that Gary modeled his name and personality after a camp counselor. He went from this young boy who loved his father and didn't have any reservations about Javier serving as a janitor at the school to a pre-teen who became conscious of race and racism.
It speaks volumes about Gary and how he ended up being the way he is, and honestly, it's long overdue that Gary, who distracts himself by making everyone else better, works on himself a bit.
I hope that this is the start of that for him since he admitted that there is a lot of stuff he's been avoiding, and it's time to meet himself in the mirror if you will.
Javier became aware of Gary's name change and guessed why he did it, but they never spoke of it. Javier was all too willing to do whatever was best to help his son navigate a world that didn't treat HIM too kindly but could be easier on Gary because of how he looks.
It's the sacrifices parents make when they love their children. It speaks to the complexities of the issue.
But you know it had to hurt for Gary to shut away that part of him to assimilate better. Gary is Javier's only son, and he gave up HIS name for something more whitewashed. And Javier hasn't addressed him by that birth name since.
It's so much to unpack there, and Gary knows it too. I think it's such a significant sign of how serious he and Darcy are that Gary has shared this part of himself with Darcy when he hasn't told anyone else, including his friends.
Gary hasn't needed to confront that for years, but Darcy made a solid case for why it still lingers in the background.
Gary didn't even realize how he stepped in it with Rome, and yeah, part of it was Rome was overwhelmed with the entire situation, and the last thing he wanted was to handhold his friends through all of this.
But it would bring up some mixed feelings about how, even without knowing Gary's past, Rome is conscious of how Gary can opt-in and out of his ethnicity in a way that Rome cannot.
Rome can't decide he doesn't want to deal with the effects of being Black for the day; his Blackness is there for all to see, but Gary doesn't have to deal with any of that in the same way, and when he did, he could simply opt-out and run away from it, blend in.
It's nothing wrong with that. You survive and navigate the world as best as you can. It's afforded Gary some privileges and luxury of ignorance, which is why it drudged up the arrest and Gary's reckless behavior that led to it again.
Gary didn't seem to learn anything from Rome's conversation with him then, but he gets it now.
Aside from the fact that Maggie took a call from Tiffany, a woman who desperately needed services and a therapist who understood her plight and experiences, Maggie's portion of the hour felt misplaced.
All it did was prompt a string of expletives of all the ways Dr. Stacy could f**k off with her five-minute therapy session lectures that didn't help anyone.
I felt like my whole life I was straddling two worlds. After my parents got divorced, I went to mostly all-white schools, was raised by mainly my mom and her side of the family. I didn't know howto fit in half the time let alone be political. I'd experience racism in school and go home to my mom who looked just like the people who hurt me. I didn't know how to articulate what it was like for me. You know, I didn't want to hurt her or worry her, but in not saying something it felt like I wasn't staying true to my other half.Gina
Maggie is in the business of helping people, and there's no time limit on that. Dr. Stacy is in it for the money and acclaim, so they weren't a good match.
I'm glad Claudia contacted Maggie and shared Tiffany's information, so Maggie could get her the help she needed, and Maggie can create a series of her own.
Maggie is in the States now, so it's curious that she still got a side storyline away from the group, though, when she could've gone to the protest, too.
At the very least, she would've found the awkwardness that is the Alan/Katherine/Eddie triangle entertaining.
It's bizarre that Alan didn't think Eddie would be at the protest when Tyrell invited him.
Tyrell is with the Howards, who are best friends with Eddie. Alan must not have gotten the memo that this group does everything together.
But Eddie went out of his way to make things easier for all involved for Theo's sake, and it was mature of him.
Rehab has done Eddie well. It's too bad that we didn't get to see much of the journey for ourselves, but Eddie appears committed to making amends and doing right by Katherine and Theo, even if he and Katherine are no longer together.
And Theo has made a turnaround with Alan. He appears to like him well enough, and he had no issue going to him for help with things, even though it left Eddie feeling some kind of way.
Based on what we're seeing, the Savilles could have this co-parenting thing in the bag.
However, it does seem as though Katherine is still keeping Alan at arm's length, doesn't it?
She made it seem as though she wanted to distance herself for Theo's sake and Eddie, but things went well with all of them, and there's no reason why they couldn't continue to work amicably together.
Katherine's reservations feel more like she's half-in and out of her marriage, and she doesn't know if she's ready to take the plunge.
Katherine: What is it?
Eddie: I should've known about the mask. When that kid in Theo's class said he needed to wear one, I should've known what that meant. I think my embarrassment over not knowing was part of the reason why I lost on the front end of our neighbor's car. I've let you two down a lot lately.
Eddie: No. No, uh, I'm not saying that because I want you to make me feel better, I'm saying that because I should've said it before.
It caught her off guard when Eddie acknowledged how inadequate he felt and how he should've known better about the racism their son experienced.
He opened up about a part of what drove him to bust up their neighbor's car, and when Katherine attempted to do that placating thing that one does, he cut her off and told her that he didn't need her to make him feel better.
He was OK sitting in his actions and his discomfort. It's a huge step for him, and Katherine didn't know how to receive that. You could tell that she maybe didn't notice, didn't buy, or didn't take the time to get to know Eddie post-rehab.
Something tells me that this isn't the end of the Saville marriage.
Over to you, AMLT Fanatics. Do you think the show tackled the subject matter well? What are your thoughts on the origins of Gary's name?
Do you think the Saville marriage still has some life in it? Hit the comments below!
You can watch A Million Little Things online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.