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million-little-things-gary-dies.jpg

The Series Finale Is Not a Good Time To Check In on 'A Million Little Things'

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 4, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 4, 2023 |


million-little-things-gary-dies.jpg

Anyone who has managed to stick with A Million Little Things for five seasons can only have done so for one reason: Gary (James Roday Rodriguez) and Maggie (Allison Miller). The two, who both have breast cancer in the opening season, survive it and begin dating. It is immediately apparent that the series is going to spend its entire run keeping them together, breaking them apart, and putting them back together again. They have exceptional chemistry (and it doesn’t hurt that Allison Miller, who plays Maggie, looks similar to Maggie Lawson, who was the love interest of James Roday Rodriguez’s character in Psych).

I watched straight through the first two seasons because of those two, but I bailed when the series broke Gary and Maggie up and paired them with other love interests. I knew it wouldn’t last, but A Million Little Things is not a very good show (especially after the opening season), and it could not sustain itself on Eddie’s relationship drama and addiction issues, Rome’s depression, the sidelining of Katherine (poor Grace Park), and Regina’s continuing conflict over whether to have a kid. It didn’t help that Delilah (Stephanie Szostak) left during the pandemic and didn’t return again until the final season.

I tuned in to the big episodes in seasons three through five and last checked in with the fifth season premiere. I made a number of predictions. Only one came true: Gary dies. F**k you, A Million Little Things.

It’s not just that he dies. He dies of breast cancer that returns and spreads to his lungs. It’s not just that he dies of cancer, it’s that they drag it out across the entire series finale. The penultimate episode ends with Gary revealing that he received a terminal diagnosis. The finale is basically all the characters saying goodbye to Gary before Eddie and Rome help him end his life with dignity.

I’ve always thought the quote — “Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder” — in Hamilton was wrong. “Death is easy. Dying is harder.” Give me a surprise car crash or a sudden heart attack. Don’t belabor dying. It’s effective, but it’s also cruel. There is nothing cathartic about it, either. Let us grieve the death of beloved television characters. Do not make us pre-grieve them, as well.

Before he goes, Maggie has a billboard painted for him. Eddie, Regina, and Rome all say sweet things to him at his bedside, and despite losing his voice, Gary manages to make a joke in response to all of them (this is why I liked Gary). Gary and Delilah also exchange farts. You heard me.

Gary peacefully dies with Maggie and his dog at his side, while the rest of the characters are back at Katherine’s place sitting around the dining room table eating, drinking, and reminiscing about Gary’s life.

Cut to the 16th birthday of Gary’s son, Javi, and he is watching the last videotape Gary left him for each of his birthdays (I told you in the season premiere that was Chekhov’s video camera). The kids are all grown up and they are best friends. Rome has a gray beard. Katherine has gray hair. Maggie, who visits Gary’s grave, looks about the same.

Here’s what happens to the other characters over the course of the fifth season: Rome and Regina do not divorce. Regina runs for city council and loses. Eddie and Delilah get back together earlier in the season. Katherine marries her girlfriend, Gretta, played by Cameron Esposito. As for Danny, Delilah’s gay kid who was defined almost exclusively through all five seasons as the gay kid: He’s still gay.