Premiering at 10/9c, the 9-1-1 spinoff stars Lowe as a skincare-conscious Manhattan firefighter who relocates to Austin, Texas to help rebuild a fractured firehouse. As the only member of his crew to survive 9/11, Owen knows a thing or two about rising from the ashes of a tragedy.
Unlike 9-1-1, which was “developed from the spectacle out,” Lone Star begins with “much more of a premise pilot,” Minear tells TVLine. “We’re telling the story of a specific incident and a specific guy who’s coming to do a specific thing. So there’s much more plot, in that sense.”
Keep reading for the 4-1-1 on the new 9-1-1, from the real-world inspiration behind its diverse cast to the first time you’ll see a familiar face from the parent procedural:
AN EMPHASIS ON DIVERSITY | After giving the firehouse a much-needed facelift, Owen fills it with an assemblage of inspiring men and women from all walks of life, including a black transgender man (played by Queen Sugar‘s Brian Michael Smith) and a thrill-seeking Muslim woman (The Brave‘s Natacha Karam). And this isn’t a team that merely happens to be diverse; a representative from the Department of Justice explains that part of Owen’s job is to address the department’s long-standing need for diversification. (Click here for a closer look at the show’s cast.)
“Ryan [Murphy] wanted to tell the story of Rob Lowe’s character coming into a red state and being specifically tasked with putting together a progressive team,” Minear says. “That red-meets-blue [concept] was interesting to us. The thing about Austin, however, is that it’s actually quite blue. It’s a very progressive town, which is what we loved about setting the show there. You get all of the rural stuff outside of the metropolitan area, but you also get the urban environment with its hipsters and its music scene and all of that.”
What’s more, the DOJ’s guidance in Owen’s hiring process is inspired by actual events. “The Justice Department did get involved with some lawsuits in Austin because there was a diversity problem in the fire department,” Minear explains. “So all of that stuff is real. And that’s in no way an aspersion on Austin, because the city really has stepped up and met the challenge.”
TEXAS-SIZED EMERGENCIES | You’ve probably heard — either from a bumper sticker or graphic t-shirt — that everything is bigger in Texas, and that apparently also applies to the emergencies facing Lone Star‘s finest. “In Episode 4, we’re having a tornado hit Austin for the first time in 20 years,” Minear says. “We have so many other cases that you wouldn’t see in Los Angeles. There’s a big grain silo case in Episode 3, and I had no idea how dangerous one of those can be. If you get sucked into a grain silo full of corn, it’s like having several pianos on your chest. You can get ripped in half.”
CROSSOVER POTENTIAL | As much as we’d love for Buck, Eddie and the rest of our 9-1-1 favorites to mosey down to Texas and mingle with the Lone Star crew, Minear says he’d rather keep the two shows “in their own lanes, at least for [the spinoff]’s first season,” admitting that there’s “always potential for crossovers down the road.” That said, eagle-eyed fans of the original series can expect a “fun little crossover” in an upcoming episode, as “a character from 9-1-1 who was the subject of a rescue relocates to Texas — and wouldn’t you know it, she ends up needing to call 9-1-1 there too.”
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