‘Red Band Society’ takes its cues from ‘The Breakfast Club,’ ‘My So-Called Life’

‘Red Band Society’
On stage during the “Red Band Society” panel on Sunday are, from left, Astro, Ciara Bravo, Nolan Sotillo, Griffin Gluck, Zoe Levin, Charlie Rowe, Wilson Cruz, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Dave Annable, Octavia Spencer and writer/executive producer Margaret Nagle.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)

It’s easy to view Fox’s “Red Band Society” as a tearjerker given its premise -- it centers on a group of teenagers with serious illnesses who form unlikely bonds while living in a pediatric ward of a Los Angeles hospital. But don’t be surprised if the show calls up the feel of ‘80s coming-of-age classic “The Breakfast Club.”

The show’s executive producers, Margaret Nagle and Justin Falvey, as well as its sprawling cast that includes Octavia Spencer and Dave Annable, were on hand Sunday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills to discuss the series, and the show’s resemblance to the John Hughes film was touched on.

“It’s definitely as complex and funny as ‘The Breakfast Club,’ ” Spencer said. “That would make me principal. Margaret [Nagle] has this wonderful way of having you think it’s going to be one way, and it turns out to be absolutely on another turn.”

Taking the connection further, Nagle hinted that there are efforts to secure a “Breakfast Club” alum to play a pathologist in an episode.


Nagle comes to the show with some familiarity with the children’s hospital environment (her brother having been in a coma when she was a child). And she said she hopes “Red Band Society” lives in the realm, tonally, of “My So-Called Life,” “Freaks and Geeks” and even “MASH,” saying those shows were discussed in the writers room in terms of the sensibility they wanted to achieve with the series, which is an adaptation of the popular Spanish series “Polseres Vermelles.”

The show will also take inspiration from a modern-day hit, “Orange Is the New Black,” in its storytelling approach, Nagle said.

“We are going to learn back stories of characters and play around with the timeline,” Nagle said. “You have to get out of the environment and find out, why are they there? How did they get there?” Parents and siblings of the patients will also drive some of the stories.

And with a setting in a children’s hospital, where a day can sometimes feel like a year, the timeline for the first season is a crucial element in telling a believable story, Nagle said. The American version will have a more compressed time frame than the Spanish version.


“Episode 2 is Day 2. Episode 3 is Week 1,” Nagle said. “So by the end of Season 1, we’ll be four months in the hospital.”
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