“A Million Little Things:” Viewer Perspectives on Meaning-Making from a TV Narrative of Suicide, Depression, Grief, & Loss
Authors: Sara Cureton & Elizabeth Murphy
Original Publication Site & Date: Media Psychology Symposium, July 2020. [virtual symposium]
Abstract: With pandemic-driven increases in television viewership, as compared to one year ago, ranging from 10% to 200% depending on platform, time of day, and content focus, the role of media representations of mental health has never been more important. Media representations have historically lacked diversity and inclusion and framed mental health in negative contexts. “A Million Little Things,” a primetime drama that debuted on ABC in 2018, included a diverse cast of characters navigating sensitive topics including suicide, depression, grief, and mental health care as central themes in the first season’s narrative.
Media representations have historically lacked diversity and inclusion and framed mental health in negative contexts.
To explore viewers’ perceptions, motivations for watching, and planned behavior around future viewership, a 16-question mixed method survey was launched to fans via social media connected to the hashtag: #amillionlittlethings. Over 150 participants responded with their first-hand experiences, stories, and meaning-making around the show’s themes, characters, and storylines. One storyline involving a Black male dealing with depression was shown to particularly resonate beyond common cultural identities such as race and gender. Those identifying with this character’s representation also signaled prosocial values and behaviors.
Sara Cureton & Elizabeth Murphy
Media Psychology, School of Psychology
Fielding Graduate University
#amillionlittlethings #mediapsy2020 #television #diversity #mediapsychology