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TV Series Review

A friend of mine once insisted that being a mortician would be the most stress-free job in the world. What's the worst that could happen? my friend asked. If you mess up super bad, someone lives?

By that measure—by any measure, really—working as a first responder would be one of the world's hardest jobs. Mess up a 911 call, and someone might die. Indeed, do everything right on a 911 call, and someone still might die.

Fox's drama 9-1-1 takes viewers on a weekly ride-along with Los Angeles' finest fictional first responders, showcasing a series of tough jobs that are never defined by punching a clock. It introduces us to a handful of folks who interact with 911 calls, giving us insight (well, as much as a rather rote broadcast drama can) into what makes them tick. And then, when our protagonists are done being heroes for the day, we follow them home, where we discover that things are no less messy.

What’s Your Emergency?

Take Bobby Nash, a captain for the Los Angeles Fire Department. This paragon of firefighting virtue is also a recovering alcoholic who just returned to the gig after an 18-month leave of absence. He tries to stay away from the booze through counseling and regular church attendance. But as any recovering addict knows, it ain't easy—and it sure doesn't help having such a stressful job. If saving complete strangers every day wasn't taxing enough, he also has to mentor Buck, the department's hunky, hot-headed hotshot who, when not making mistakes in the field, hops into bed with most every woman who has a pulse.

Good thing Buck has Athena Grant, his fiancé and a tough-as-nails police officer, to help him make it through hard days. . But Athena needs a little help processing her own difficulties, too. After her ex-husband, Michael, left her for another man, Athena’s still picking up the pieces of her broken marriage while raising their two children.

Maddie Kendall doesn't have the same sort of hands-on responsibilities that Bobby and Athena have: As a 911 operator, she simply takes the calls and does what she can to help (unless the caller's idea of an emergency is overheated chicken nuggets, as sometimes happens). But the poor woman is always on call and often puts out fires of a different nature: When she's not answering desperate pleas from Los Angelinos during their worst days, she’s overcoming personal trauma and attempting to balance her love life.

Finding the Good—and Bad—In Someone’s Worst Day

We don't need to be told that first responders are heroes, but it's nice of Fox to remind us anyway. It emphasizes to me, once again, that I made the right decision in becoming a Christian television critic.

The jobs these folks do are only for the sturdiest of souls—those who are able to fight like the dickens to save someone's life, but who can move on to the next call even when the last one didn't end well.

I'm also grateful that the show's first responders take their lives so seriously outside the workplace, too: Bobby's faith is a welcome outlier in the world of broadcast dramas. Athena's desire to adhere to her marriage vows in spite of the circumstances is rather admirable. Abby grows frustrated with her mom on occasion, but what caregiver doesn't? She still chooses, every day, to do what must be done.

But none of those positives necessarily save this show from its problems. If heroism sits in the front seat, sexual content lounges in back. While the show steers clear of nudity, we do see intimate encounters sometimes, and characters often actively push other characters to engage in said activity. Language can be harsh as well.

And remember that this is a show about people's emergencies, and emergencies are rarely pretty. While 9-1-1 isn't nearly as graphic as it could be, viewers will see people bleed and sometimes die. Also worth noting: Rescue workers lie a lot. It's almost always done in context of a job, protecting victims from becoming distracted or distraught while in danger, but still. Can't shake my Sunday school education that taught me lying is never a great thing.

9-1-1 feels, in a way, like Abby's job manning the emergency phone lines: You never know from week-to-week—or even from minute-to-minute—what emergency might get called in next. And while viewers will certainly experience their share of inspirational happy endings, other times could get messy indeed.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

April 15, 2019: "Broken"
9-1-1: Jan. 10, 2018 "Let Go"



Readability Age Range



Angela Bassett as Athena Grant; Peter Krause as Bobby Nash; Oliver Stark as Evan 'Buck' Buckley; Aisha Hinds as Henrietta 'Hen' Wilson; Kenneth Choi as Howie 'Chimney' Han; Rockmond Dunbar as Michael Grant; Connie Britton as Abby Clark; Jennifer Love Hewitt as Maddie Kendall






Record Label




On Video

Year Published


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