×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ryan Murphy Says ‘9-1-1’ Was Inspired by Real-Life Family Emergency

When Ryan Murphy was in his early 30s, he went to a plastic surgery office to do research for his then-drama “Nip/Tuck.” In similar fashion, a real life experience inspired his latest drama, “9-1-1-.”

“My son Ford was 11 months old and in the middle of the night stopped breathing,” Murphy said at Fox’s Television Critics Assn. press tour panel for the show Thursday. “We called 9-1-1, and obviously we were in a panic and doing CPR, and they showed up, and at two in the morning there were four responders. They were incredibly calm and nurturing, and they brought him back to life.”

Murphy remembers the experience emotionally, noting that at one point one of the responders asked him to leave the room, and when they transported the boy to the hospital, only one parent could ride in the ambulance with him. Ford recovered, but the responders remained on Murphy’s mind. Struck by the balance they must provide for people having the worst days of their lives, he wanted to tell their stories.

Like “Nip/Tuck” before it, “9-1-1” has procedural elements that are based on true cases researched both by speaking to real life responders, as well as digging into extreme stories that have gone viral online. Some cases will therefore reflect what is really going on in the world, but Murphy is making a point not to get political with the stories the show tackles.

“I’m interested in presenting stories that are uplifting and aspirational and that give you hope, given viewers hope that here is good out there,” he said. “There is a feeling that I was left with [when the responders saved my son], and that feeling is what we’re trying to put in the show.”

Every episode starts from a place of “What’s your emergency?” and tells the story of three or four cases that the 9-1-1 operators, police officers, and firefighters who get the calls experience. Murphy calls it a “blue skies show” focusing on “people that got up every day and did good deeds while battling their own demons but put other people before them and created a community.”

Murphy was also interested in doing something different from what he had done recently. After spending years on anthology dramas starting with “American Horror Story” and expanding into “American Crime Story” and “Feud,” he was looking to get back to episodic drama.

“I never want to use the word ‘reinvent,’ but I was interested in doing something that was new for me,” Murphy said. “Within that world, I was interested in creating a show where the emergencies at the heart of the show were from the lead characters.”

But beyond the stories on-screen, Murphy was also interested in expanding the world for the talent he worked with both above and below the line.

“The thing I’m most interested in is bringing up new talent, making success available to minorities [and] woman. I’m able to do that, and I like that. What excites me most is coming up with an idea and creating a family and a community to create that show. I’ve been moving towards that in the past few years, but now I’m doing it a very large way,” Murphy said.

In addition to growing a team of writers, producers, and directors through his company — and through the Half Foundation – Murphy is continuing to provide equity for some of his actors. Angela Bassett, who stars on “9-1-1” as Athena Grant is also an executive producer on the show.

“I just believe in it. I believe it’s a very important thing,” Murphy said of empowering his talent. “If you’re going to take a chance and jump off a ledge with me, I would hope you would also feel like you’re a partner, not just someone who works for me.”

“9-1-1” airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on Fox.

More TV

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Whiskey Tango Cavalier

    TV Review: 'Whiskey Cavalier'

    The crux of “Whiskey Cavalier” can be found right in its protagonist’s name. “Will Chase” is a purposefully ridiculous wink of a name that tries to be both debonair and very silly all at once, just like the FBI agent (played by Scott Foley) to which it belongs. This isn’t a regular spy drama, “Whiskey [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Malik Yoba to Reprise Role in 'New York Undercover' Reboot at ABC

    Malik Yoba, who starred as Detective J.C. Williams in the 90s show “New York Undercover,” is set to reprise the role in the ABC reboot, sources tell Variety. Picking up 20 years after the end of the original series, “New York Undercover” will follow detectives Nat Gilmore and Melissa Ortiz as they investigate the city’s [...]

  • Chris Burrous dead KTLA anchor

    KTLA Anchor Chris Burrous' Cause of Death Released

    An investigative report on KTLA anchor Chris Burrous has determined that his cause of death was attributed to methamphetamine toxicity, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Burrous, 43, was found unconscious at a motel in Glendale, Calif on December 27, and later died at the hospital. The death has been ruled as accidental. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER: Rabbit in the

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of Feb. 11: 'Masked Singer' Easily Tops Competition

    Fox’s “The Masked Singer” was the highest-rated broadcast show of the week in both Live+Same Day and Live+3. For the week of Feb. 11, the unscripted singing competition series went from a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 to a 3.4, a rise of 42%. In total viewers, the show went from 7.8 million viewers to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content