In the everyday world, Zac and Mia would have little in common, but in the hospital, where they’re the only two teens on the ward, they develop an unbreakable bond, in this award-winning drama series, now streaming on Showmax.
As Mia, Anne Winters (Chloe from 13 Reasons Why) won the Emmy for Best Actress in a Digital Daytime Drama, while three-time Teen Choice-winning YouTuber Kian Lawley (superkian13, with 3.35million followers) was nominated opposite her as Zac.
Maths-loving Zac had his whole future planned out, to the decimal point. The only thing he hadn’t accounted for was one unknown variable: cancer. The one reliable constant has been the love and support of his family. But with that has come the need to be strong for them as they face the ordeal by his side.
When magnetic social butterfly Mia checks in for treatment on her stage 1A osteosarcoma of the leg, she is totally alone. The last thing she needs is a pity party, so as far as the friends and classmates on her social media accounts are concerned, she’s on a modelling shoot in New York. Which is just how she wants it. She’d rather deal with this annoying disruption to her life alone and in private. That is, until the treatment starts, and she discovers just how lonely alone can be.
When Zac bangs on the wall between their rooms to shut Mia’s loud music up, the two have no idea they’re about to find a friend in the midst of it all, and maybe something more.
Based on the multi-award-winning novel by AJ Betts, the series has an 8.1/10 rating on IMDB and was also nominated for Emmys for Outstanding Digital Daytime Drama Series, Outstanding Directing (Jason Perlman) and Outstanding Supporting Actress (Alexis G. Zall).
Critics say the show “examines the inner turmoil that comes with having a serious illness, but also the hope and clarity that can be found when people get real with one another.”
Before writing Zac & Mia, Betts spent years working with teens on a cancer ward, while both leads also spent a lot of time with young patients in hospitals, to learn first-hand about the realities of coping with cancer. The series’ dedication reads: “For the Zacs and Mias. The real ones.”
Betts’ chief inspiration, and encouragement, came from a young woman named Tayla. “She adored the characters and story, and kept telling me to hurry up and finish it… Then, when I was about halfway through the novel, she died suddenly. It was awful and it broke my heart. I gave up completely on the novel.”
It was only after Tayla’s mother urged the author to continue the story that she returned to it. “It was painful, but I knew I had to finish the novel: not just for Tayla, but all the other teenagers who have taught me so much. I knew I had to tell their stories, good and bad. I wanted to give them a voice, then share it with as many people as I could.”
Common Sense Media gave the show 4/5 stars and rated it 13+ (noting that there is some swearing and sexiness). Zac & Mia, they say, “examines the inner turmoil that comes with having a serious illness, but also the hope and clarity that can be found when people get real with one another.”
They also give the show kudos for “showing the mental health repercussions that come along with trying to be ‘strong’ for your family and friends, and how even the most stoic among us need the permission to fully express and experience our emotions.”
In Season 2, Zac looks forward to things going back to normal as he returns home, but soon discovers that normal is not what it once was. Mia embarks on physiotherapy and is learning to adjust to life after her operation, but she has a long, hard road ahead of her.
The one thing they have is each other, but can a relationship that blossomed in a bubble cope with the harsh light of the day-to-day world?