Hotline is a new hour-long teen drama loosely inspired by the 90s miniseries of the same name by Carolyn Meyer. The action centers around three teenagers who work at a peer-oriented community crisis center, each of them having their own reasons for being there. In between taking calls and counseling other youths they also have their own lives to deal with, and not everything is perfect. But these three unlikely coworkers- and friends?- may find support in each other.
played by Mitchell Hope
Paul is the series' introductory character, as the pilot opens with him being brought to the center for his first day of work. At the start of the series he is not doing any counseling, instead merely running errands, and he's not working there of his own free will- it's part of his probation from a minor shoplifting charge. Of course he's initially reluctant to be thrown in with a bunch of "Samaritan wimps" as he puts it, but slowly befriending Judi and Faris and seeing the work they do learns him empathy. Glimpses seen of his home life are rough with an alcoholic father and the fact his mother ran off when he was two years old.
played by Hannah Marks
Hannah is one of the teens at the center who handles calls. Though she is compassionate and helpful, her motivations for working there are mostly to build up her extracurricular activities and resume for college and occasionally gets in over her head if someone has a really drastic case, in which situation one of the other workers or Ms. Lee will step in for guidance. Glimpses of her home life seen are that her parents were overachievers and push her to do the same.
played by Ehren Kassam
Faris is another teen at the center who handles calls, but his biggest strength is face-to-face counseling. He plans to study youth psychology in college in order to become a social worker and considers this job as training, but glimpses seen of his life later on reveal another motivation: before coming to Buffalo, he lived in New York City and was devastated when a close friend committed suicide. He carries a lot of guilt that he wasn't able to see the signs and doesn't want another young person to feel vulnerable and alone again.
played by Sandrine Holt
Rosalyn, or Ms. Lee as she is commonly addressed by the teens, is a counselor who overlooks all the operations of the OneCall Center. She is one of the few adults in the series who doesn't immediately look down on Paul despite his record and thus he finds her to be trustworthy. She will do face-to-face counseling herself and step in if someone is having trouble with a call. Over the series she reveals moments of her past of being in the foster system through her whole childhood while never knowing her biological parents, and wanting to use her experiences to help people.
Hotline is set in Buffalo, New York. The majority of the action takes place at the (fictional) OneCall Center, so named because 'one call can change everything'. Other settings are the South Park High School where the trio attend classes, the Boulevard Mall that is a common hangout when they're not working, and their respective homes.
From 1x02, "Just Give Me Time"
[PAUL removes his container from the break room fridge and opens it to pull out one its slices of cold pizza, no doubt leftovers from last night. When he sits at the table he sees that JUDI is delicately picking at a box of sushi and FARIS has a loaded sub sandwich. He sighs and tears a bite from his pizza anyway.]
PAUL: How do you guys do it?
[JUDI looks up from her food blinking, rather like she's just snapped from daydreaming.]
JUDI: Do what?
PAUL: Handle the calls. I mean, y'got runaway kids, kids whose parents beat 'em, even kids that wanna kill themselves, how can you manage all that?
[FARIS' eye twitches. It's subtle enough for the audience to pick up on but goes unnoticed by the others.]
JUDI: We get trained for all of that. You listen, you care. It helps to tell them about practical actions they can take.
PAUL: An' what if they might not listen?
[FARIS idly picks at a bit from his sandwich as if it's his turn to be lost in thought.]
FARIS: Give 'em guidelines, pray they'll do the right thing, and try not to beat yourself up over it.
From 1x13, "The Weight Of The World" (season finale)
FARIS: Dude, this isn't even your case and you're getting too involved. How do we even know she gave us her real name in the first place?
[PAUL sits with his head in his hands. He's clearly confused and shaken, but not ready to abandon ship just yet.]
PAUL: I know we don't even know, but- I never got gut feelings about people before, OK? Just went along with the crowd an' didn't give a crap, and that's what got me working with you two. But she sounded like she was in a world of trouble.
[JUDI is visibly fidgeting her hands at this point.]
JUDI: Look, maybe we should just let Ms. Lee take over on this one. She could contact the police and-
[The doorbell RINGS off-screen and PAUL snaps his head back up.]
PAUL: Dad never rings, what the hell?- [He gets up.]
INT. MCDOWELL FRONT DOORWAY.
[The doorbell RINGS again and PAUL stomps into frame.]
PAUL: Alright, alright, I'm coming-
[When he swings open the door his speech is cut off by who is standing on the front steps. It's not GREGORY at all, but a woman in her forties with visible lines of age on her face, eyes brightened by anxiety instead of alertness, and an unmistakable shade of red in her hair that is just like the now-stunned teen's. There is a beat filled by the music cue before-]
ANGELIE: Hello, Paul.
MEDIUM SHOT: PAUL.
[FADE TO CREDITS.]
Tune in this fall...
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