In 9-1-1 Maddie & Chimney’s time away from LA in Boston after Jee-Yun’s birth shows the reality of postpartum depression.
Early in 9-1-1 season 5, Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Chimney (Kenneth Choi) left their home and friends in Los Angeles, taking an extended break before returning nine episodes later no longer a couple. Maddie’s last prior appearance was in season 5, episode 3, “Desperate Measures,” with Chimney leaving to find her in episode 4, “Home and Away.” While there were production reasons for the break, namely Jennifer Love Hewitt’s own pregnancy, the in-universe 9-1-1 storyline to justify it ended up being one of its most realistic plot arcs- an honest portrayal of postpartum depression.
Maddie has had a hard journey since she replaced Connie Britton’s Abby in 9-1-1 season 2. She had survived domestic abuse and a violent encounter with her ex. Her relationship with Chimney developed slowly as she gradually grew to trust him. After giving birth to their daughter Jee-Yun at the end of season 4, Maddie began experiencing post-partum depression. This continued into season 5, resulting in her leaving her daughter at the firehouse with a video message for Chimney. In the next episode, after learning why she left, Chimney took Jee-Yun and went to find her. They reunited in episode 12, “Boston”. However, despite Chimney’s best efforts, Maddie was clearly not in a place where she could start a family with him as they’d planned. While Chimney managed to convince Maddie to return to LA, she still had too much to work through before they could rekindle their romance.
Maddie And Chimney Leaving 9-1-1 Made Sense For The Story
An interview with executive producer Tim Minear in May 2021 suggested that there’s more to Maddie’s story: “It’s a story that I don’t want to give short shrift to. It will end up creating a major complication for Season 5” [via TVline]. The 9-1-1 season 5 complication he referred to could be Maddie’s departure, but if the storyline remains prominent, there’s doubtless more to Maddie’s arc now that she’s returned. Both Kenneth Choi and Jennifer Love Hewitt were still credited as 9-1-1 main cast members throughout Maddie and Chimney’s absence, so the chances that either would be written out permanently were always slim. After investing in Maddie and Chimney’s struggles bringing Jee-Yun into the world, 9-1-1 audiences would most likely find either of them being written out incredibly frustrating.
The break makes sense for 9-1-1’s narrative arcs, but behind-the-scenes circumstances influenced the decision too. In September 2021, Hewitt gave birth to her third child, and she needed time off from 9-1-1 for her pregnancy and maternity leave. Maddie’s departure both allowed Hewitt to take some time for her new baby and furthered Maddie’s plot. It was dramatic and gave weight to what the 9-1-1 character had been dealing with. The phone call from Maddie to Buck was likely recorded in a studio, which would have been easier for Hewitt than being on-set. Her absence was designed to free Hewitt from filming requirements while keeping Maddie a plot-relevant character. It worked. When Maddie returned nine episodes later, it felt natural. Maddie has been through a lot, to say the least, so taking a break from LA would have made sense even if Hewitt didn’t need the time off-screen.
While Maddie needed to leave to accommodate Hewitt’s pregnancy, Chimney’s departure was completely grounded in what makes sense for the story. After everything they’ve been through together on the show, it would be out of character for him to accept that Maddie had left. Having him leave for a few episodes to look for her both advanced the plot and developed them as a 9-1-1 couple. It’s also a strong message from the show that people dealing with post-partum depression don’t have to go through it alone and that support from family can be crucial. What’s in store for Chimney now he and Maddie have split isn’t clear. This further adds to the realism of their story, though – some relationships don’t survive postpartum depression, even with a supportive partner. It also impacts everyone involved. Maddie may face most of the struggle, but Chimney has been far from OK. It’s an incredibly complex issue, and 9-1-1 has done a phenomenal job of never shying away from that.
What’s Up Next For Maddie And Chimney
9-1-1’s Maddie and Chimney storyline enabled Hewitt to have time with her new baby and furthered Maddie’s character development. As for Chimney, 9-1-1 audiences saw just how dedicated he is both to Maddie and their daughter having a stable life with a present Mom. While there’s been no news on 9-1-1 season 6 aside from its renewal, season 5 ended with both Maddie and Chimney at a time of high uncertainty. Even though they’re both back, nothing’s really been resolved. They’re both trying to be there for Jee-Yun while figuring out where they stand with each other and within themselves.
Chimney has rejoined the 118, but Maddie’s still unsure if she’ll return to her former life as a dispatcher. They’ve managed to share some wonderful moments with Jee-Yun, such as her eating food for the first time, but flashes of tension constantly arise. For example, Chimney mistakes Maddie’s uncertainty about coming back to the 118 as her asking permission to date other people. His irateness shows that he clearly still has feelings for Maddie – emotions that she might not reciprocate. Not only would this make their platonic parenting model difficult when 9-1-1 returns for season 6, but it’s yet another way Maddie and Chimney’s arcs reflect the many realities of postpartum depression and how it impacts couples.
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