NBC’s break-out hit This Is Us returns Tuesday, the show’s writers, producers and cast are as upset as viewers for being shut out of the Golden Globes. But the oversight of not seizing Best Drama Series, isn’t the worst of it. Neither Mandy Moore or Chrissy Metz lands Best Supporting Actress (personally, I’m more upset for Metz.) Regardless, most viewers will likely not detract from giving this gem of a show a chance.
If you’ve been watching from the get-go, there’s no chance you’ll stop watching now. This is especially true after the cliffhanger of Toby’s heart attack thrown at viewers at Christmas break. But for new viewers, This Is Us is a weighty, substantive series in a time when much of what’s on television—a reflection of larger society—focuses on the lowest common denominator. The characters feel like your own family, playing out plot-lines that reflect similar events that occurs in many of our lives. I immediately visualize most of the events easily happening in real life.
Story Telling Through Flashbacks
It is a throw-back in more ways than simply the ongoing flashbacks to Moore’s “Rebecca” and Milo Ventimiglia’s “Jack” starting a family in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s. They conceive triplets during halftime of Super Bowl XIV after a very public fight over starting a family. Kate and Kevin are born on Jack’s 36th birthday, the number taking greater significance as the series evolves, but their brother is stillborn. Yet at the same hospital, firefighters bring in a newborn black baby boy whose father (a down-on-his luck drug addict musician) drops his son off at the station. At the behest of their doctor (Gerald McRaney), Rebecca and Jack adopt the boy.
This is Us and Social/Cultural Depth
From there,This Is Us takes on a number of importance subjects beyond simply the challenge of family dynamics. Kevin (Justin Hartley), especially, has a hard time accepting Randall (Sterling K. Brown) as his real brother, even resenting him for the seemingly preferential treatment. Because, Jack and especially Rebecca gives a young Randall extra attention to make sure he feels accepted. Meanwhile, Jack and Rebecca battle over allowing black male role models into Randall’s life. Rebecca hides the fact that, all along, she knows and keeps in touch with Randall’s real father (Ron Cephas Jones.) Jack forgoes a lifelong dream of opening up his own architecture firm for a steady paycheck, and becomes an alcoholic. Rebecca, armed with Moore’s pipes, goes from aspiring singer to shelving her dreams for motherhood.
Taking On Body Image & Everything Else In Between
This Is Us deals with negative body image, death, lies, relationships, acceptance and everything in between. Plus the writing is natural, realistic, compelling, and appropriately familiar. I also love how the writer’s of the show throws in surprising revelation, just for good measure.
If you are seeking an alternative to morbidity, banality or plain stupidity on television, This Is Us has something to offer that will make you feel good while also challenging your sensibilities.