Monday, October 25, 2021

‘9-1-1’: Buck, Eddie, and Why It’s Time for “Buddie” to Happen

FOX’s hit series 9-1-1 explores the high-pressure experiences of first responders in Los Angeles, California as they’re thrust into frightening, shocking, and heart-stopping situations. Beyond this procedural aspect of the show, there’s also a heavy focus on the personal lives of its main characters. With dating, breakups, marriages, divorces, children, death, addiction, trauma, and much more, there’s never a dull moment on or off of calls.

In the second season of 9-1-1, a new recruit joined Station 118 — Edmundo “Eddie” Diaz, portrayed by Ryan Guzman. A former army medic, Eddie quickly took to his job as a firefighter. And though Oliver Stark’s Evan “Buck” Buckley initially perceived Eddie as a threat to his own job, given how close they were in age and skillsets, the two were soon able to move past their differences. Now, years later, Eddie and Buck have both been through enough trauma and life-changing situations to last a lifetime — both individually and together — which has only served to further deepen the inseparable bond that the two share.

Right from the get-go after firefighter Diaz began working for the 118, fans were quick to begin “shipping” (which can be defined as the desire to see a romantic relationship between particular characters) Eddie and Buck, referring to the pair as “Buddie” as a play on both of their names. Shipping is a common practice for fans seen across many forms of media, including but not limited to films, television, books, and video games. 

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9-1-1 is now in the process of airing its fifth season, and something has become abundantly clear at this point: now more than ever, it’s time for Buddie to happen. 

So why now?

Buck and Eddie have multiple seasons of major life events, intense story arcs, and relationship woes under their belts. Now, having checked off the boxes for many obstacles that a writer may want to throw at a character before doing so, both of them are more than ready to enter into their respective “endgame” relationships on the show. After all, they’re the last remaining main adult characters who have yet to achieve this!

Let’s take a look at Eddie. He’s had not one but two near-death experiences on the series, the first of which was depicted in his backstory episode “Eddie Begins,” where he nearly drowned saving a boy trapped in a well. He was left fighting for his life again in season 4 when a sniper shot him on a call. Eddie also went through a difficult period in the past with anger issues that placed him in dangerous situations, which he was eventually able to address in therapy.

And romance? Well, Eddie was initially introduced as a single dad to his wonderful son, Christopher, though that changed slightly when his still-married-ex Shannon came back into the picture. Their reconciliation ultimately didn’t pan out, because Shannon decided she finally wanted a divorce instead, and then in a shocking twist, she died. After taking a considerable amount of time to himself, Eddie later tried to pursue something with Christopher’s old teacher, Ana. However, despite the seemingly easy nature of their relationship, Eddie chose to end things with her in last week’s episode, “Desperate Measures,” because he ultimately didn’t feel the same way about her and couldn’t even think of a future with her without panicking.

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In contrast, Buck has had a very different on-screen history with relationships, both romantic and sexual in nature. After playing the field regularly for some time (and nearly losing his job as a firefighter thanks to some poor choices on that front), his outlook on relationships changed entirely after meeting Abby. Despite their rocky ending, he managed to hold on to his new beginnings as Buck 2.0. Buck has explored other connections since then, most recently reconciling with past flame Taylor Kelly to pursue something a bit more serious than their prior no-strings-attached affair (though after the way that Eddie and Ana came to an end, there’s no guarantee Taylor is here to stay).

As for other life events, Buck has taken quite a journey since season 1. We’ve seen him badly injured after his leg was crushed under the ladder truck, he repaired his estranged relationship with his sister Maddie, he’s unpacked a lifetime’s worth of family trauma with his parents, and he’s finally seeing a therapist. Out of all of the characters on 9-1-1, Buck has arguably gone through the most growth by far from his first appearance to now.

What does this mean for Buddie?

For those that have been paying attention, an insurmountable amount of groundwork has been laid over the years to support the evidence that Buck and Eddie’s ideal endgame relationships are with each other.

While the instances of directly scripted acknowledgments of their chemistry could be brushed off as mere nods from the writers (Santa’s elf assuming they were Christopher’s fathers, the Instagram Live commentary, Maddie’s callout of the “boy crush,” the mistaken “cute” comment at Maddie’s, you get the idea), there are even deeper threads that have been woven into the narrative that have inexplicably tied these toward together for the long haul.

So choose your fighter (in a list that’s nowhere near exhaustive): Buck’s relationship with Christopher (and the entire tsunami arc), Buck’s unforgettable meltdown when Eddie almost died in “Eddie Begins,” and the sniper attack — including the moments immediately preceding, Buck’s conversation with Christopher, and the biggest, most important hint of them all: Eddie revealing that Buck is to be his son’s legal guardian if he dies.

The series has made it abundantly clear how Christopher affects Eddie’s relationship choices, which has been seen in various iterations with both Shannon and Ana. Opening up is difficult enough for Eddie, but finding the trust to bring someone into the fold of his son’s life is something else entirely. Who better to fill this role than the person he spoke these exact words to, “There’s nobody in this world I trust with my son more than you”?

And that’s not even taking Buck and Eddie’s everyday interactions into consideration, which only serve to add fuel to the fire. There’s a defined line between perceiving ambiguous moments between two characters with rose-colored glasses and finally acknowledging years worth of deliberate narrative choices that are difficult to ignore when stacked up against one another. After everything that’s happened, bringing Buck and Eddie together just makes sense, and the timing has never been better.

But why does Buddie even need to happen in the first place?

Coming from an objective perspective, the necessity of Buddie extends far beyond the hopeful wishes of fans that appreciate the chemistry that the two share. Ship them or don’t, a potential romantic relationship between these two characters opens some important doors for LGBTQ+ representation on 9-1-1 and in television in general.

A slow burn between two characters is in no way a new trope on TV. We’ve seen countless shows where it may take many seasons, or even the entirety of a series itself, for the “endgame” couple to finally get together. But when it does happen, it’s typically a very gratifying, exciting, and emotional moment born from countless episodes of development and build-up. The catch? An overwhelming majority of these stories revolve around cisgender heterosexual couples.

LGBTQ+ couples deserve to be represented with the same well-written, meaningful, drawn-out, slow burn romances on TV. Buck and Eddie present an incredible opportunity to do exactly this because every ingredient for an epic love story has already been stirred into the pot, we just need to light the flame and let it ignite.

Extending beyond the romantic connotations of Buddie itself is the even rarer chance to tell a story about not one, but two men discovering their sexualities in their late 20s/early 30s. Both Buck and Eddie present a very specific opportunity to tell two unique, substantial coming out stories — one, a single father, and the other, a man with a perpetual list of failed relationships.

Doesn’t 9-1-1: Lone Star already have a gay couple front and center?

Why yes it does, thanks for asking! Set in Austin, Texas, Lone Star is a spin-off series of 9-1-1, and it received a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series at the 32nd GLAAD Media Awards thanks to its LGBTQ+ representation. One of the prominent couples on the series is Ronen Rubinstein’s Tyler Kennedy “T.K.” Strand and Rafael Silva’s Carlos Reyes — known by fans as Tarlos.

Tarlos was steamy, wonderful, and very much canon right from the show’s pilot episode, and despite some bumps along the way, the two are still together now ahead of the upcoming third season. But it’s important to keep in mind that the existence of T.K. and Carlos’ relationship on Lone Star should in no way, shape, or form affect the potential for another leading male relationship on 9-1-1.

It’s 2021, and it’s time to accept that we’ve moved past the need to make excuses along the lines of, “Well, don’t we already have enough representation here?” The answer is and will always be no, because there should be no limit to LGBTQ+ representation on television.

Catch a new episode of 9-1-1 tonight on FOX at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and catch up on all of our weekly coverage on the series here.

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Lindsey
Lindsey joined the Nerds and Beyond team in 2018. She has spent a large portion of her life dedicated to her first love, photography. When she's not behind the camera, she's likely reading books and comics or dabbling in creative writing. Otherwise, she's probably yelling about something Star Wars or Marvel related on Twitter @lindyysolo. Contact: lindsey@nerdsandbeyond.com

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