“Red Band Society” is a very personal show for creator Margaret Nagle. She tells reporters in Los Angeles at the 2014 Television Critics Association summer press tour that Season 1 of her new show, about teenagers in the pediatric wing of a hospital, draws on many experiences from her own life.
Nagle’s older brother was in a coma for several years when they were children, so she based a lot of the narrator’s life — a boy in a coma named Charlie (also her brother’s name) — on his experiences.
“The arc of Season 1 is the story of Charlie. It’s his story and his emergence,” she says. “My brother, Charlie, was in a coma for a very, very long time. He is a remarkable guy, my older brother, so it is inspired by his story and the things he could hear in the coma, he could smell in the coma. He was experiencing life all around him in the coma.”
She continues, “We’re going to join in his journey; we’re going to know his family; we’re going to see how he, in that coma, connects with and changes the lives of these other characters as well.”
Charlie narrates the series — through his coma — and will continue to provide voiceovers throughout Season 1. Nagle hints that Charlie will wake up at some point in the season, and says the voiceover narration will transfer to another character for Season 2.
Despite the fact that Charlie is in a coma, his voiceover provides a lot of humor and warmth — proving that just because the show is about children with critical diseases doesn’t mean it won’t be fun and heartwarming.
“I found [the hospitals I spent time in as a child] to be the most uplifting, the most hilarious [places] — the black humor, the fun of getting to know the kids you would never know in any other situation and these walls fall down. Yes, there are serious things that these kids are going to have to face, but it’s not a show that has a body count.”
Bonus fun fact: After a reporter notes that there’s a “Breakfast Club” feel to the pilot, Nagle says she’s hoping to get one of the “Breakfast Club” cast members to sign on as a recurring character. She tells Zap2it that she won’t reveal who it is (since there’s no offer out yet), he — yes, it’s a he — is “maybe the weirdest, most offbeat one possible — whoever you think that might be. We really see him working in the bowels of the hospital.”