Television is generally a happy medium, especially when it comes to broadcast. Sure, there's the occasional serious drama or that hospital show that's really about the doctor-on-doctor conflict and has little to do with medicine.
Rarely does a show come along that tackles a serious subject matter while maintaining a lighthearted edge. Put kids in the center and you might just have yourself some compelling TV.
South Florida native, Nolan Sotillo, visited the New Times offices to chat about FOX's new dramedy, Red Band Society. Check out our video above and our full interview.
Originally from West Palm Beach, Sotillo moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and, luckily, the West Coast has proven hospitable. But West Palm will always be his home, says the actor. "West Palm Beach is nicer, just because it feels like home, but I like Los Angeles. I've had a good experience there, they've treated me well so far," he adds with a laugh.
Sotillo is currently filming FOX's new drama/comedy about a group of sick teens living in a hospital together and sharing the typical life experiences that happen when you're a kid.
"Red Band Society takes place in the pediatric ward of a hospital," explains Sotillo, "and I think the coolest thing about it is that when you're in a hospital, the walls come down. It doesn't matter if you were the cheerleader, or you were the jock, or you were the cool kid, or you're the new kid...you're there and you're all sick and there's not necessarily that many of you there, so you have to kind of get along with one another, whether you like it or not."
Audiences are used to watching hospital dramas with adults in the center -- usually doctors -- and having the patients be part of the background noise. With Red Band Society, things get flipped, the parents disappear (which is often the case with young adult movies), and the nurses and doctors become like adoptive guardians to the sick kids.
While on tour promoting the show, Sotillo says how his co-star, Charlie Rowe (Leo), likes to share a story about their hospital visit. "When we did a hospital tour with a bunch of kids and we told the kids that the show was going to be about them, you saw their faces light up. Normally, there's a show and it's about a doctor and there's just one sick person for that episode, but now, it's all about the kids.
"It's exciting in a way to represent these kids that are going through these very tough situations, and we're just hoping that we can do it in a truthful manner."
A show like Red Band Society might evoke comparisons to the recent YA movie, The Fault in Our Stars, or even FOX's own House and Glee. There are kids with cancer, medical things going on, and the occasional singing all blended together.
"When I saw The Fault in Our Stars, I was bawling, so I don't think Red Band Society is quiet as sad. There are definitely some more comedic moments that you don't expect," says Sotillo. Yet, he still sees the comparison as something valid because both deal with the theme of mortality. "Now, it's all about making the most of the time that you have here and making real relationships and bonding with people while you're still here. So I think in that sense, they're similar."
Despite the similarities to other shows or films out there, what FOX is doing with Red Band Society is taking a risk.
"I think it's very important to have a show like this because there's nothing else like it -- I feel like we're kind of breaking the mold...it's going to mean something to you when you watch.
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"I feel like when you're inspired by a show that automatically means that the show is doing something right and that hopefully we're going to be able to make a difference with the show because it's cool to touch everybody that's watching."
Red Band Society airs on FOX Wednesday nights at 9 p.m.