If Gravity — Starz's new dark comedy about suicide survivors — runs the risk of offending potential viewers, the show's co-creator says he's unconcerned.
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"There are enough people out there who aren't afraid of their own humanity and rally around truth tellers," Eric Schaffer tells TVGuide.com. "So, a sensitive subject like this, if it's treated with honesty and integrity and compassion, can also be funny. Humor can be a gateway to recovery from tragedy and help us deal with it."
The offbeat series follows a support group of colorful characters who've each attempted suicide. Members include lonely makeup counter girl Lily (Krysten Ritter of Breaking Bad); devout Catholic and widower Robert (Ivan Sergei of Jack & Jill); fortysomething ex-model Shawna (supermodel Rachel Hunter), who has thing for younger men; and group leader Doug (Ving Rhames of Pulp Fiction), a former major league baseball player who uses a wheelchair.
"It's a dark place to be, to want to kill yourself. And the exciting part is seeing my character come to life figuratively and literally," says Ritter, who isn't concerned about how the premise will be perceived. "The show's unconventional and so am I. And in every joke there's always tragedy."
For instance, at the start of the premiere (Friday at 10:30/9:30c), Sergei's character tries to kill himself by driving off a cliff, but winds up crashing into a pool on a gay cruise ship.
"We get to do this in a comical way that's sort of easier to handle and stomach," Sergei says.
Ritter's character, who attempts suicide by chasing a bottle of pills with a beastly slice of chocolate cake, is also treated in a lighthearted way at times as she falls head over heels for a man she sees in heaven after flat-lining at the hospital. The irony? She's an atheist.
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Though suicide is considered a touchy subject, Hunter is glad to see a show like this on television.
"I really think there's a lot of it around. You can't ignore the fact. I'm sure some people will be sensitive about it, but at the same time, it's important to address it," she says. "A lot of things aren't hidden anymore and this has been around for a long time."