It’s not very often that a television show comes along and completely disrupts my life; week after week I was left a teary-eyed mess and became more and more enamored with this fictitious family. The last show to make me feel this emotionally unstable was Parenthood, which ended its five year run in early 2015.
NBC created This is Us to fill the void that the Bravermans left and also to prove that no one can do family dramas quite like they can. Now that the very first season of This is Us has come to a close, I feel like I can truly express my thoughts/opinions about NBC’s newest family drama.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it is about a normal family dealing with all of the dysfunction that comes from being a multi-generational clan. We watch Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) meet and fall in love in the 70s, then we see them get married and start a family. Their three children, who Jack lovingly dubbed “The Big Three” are: Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown). This is Us follows the Pearsons over the course of many years, usually containing scenes from the past and present in a single episode.
The first thing I want to talk about is the talented cast:
Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia are incredible as Rebecca and Jack- the heart and soul of the Pearson family. Their onscreen chemistry is so natural and believable and their love is truly inspiring. What moves me the most about their marriage is how committed they are to one another and how well they work together as a unit. In Episode 13 (Three Sentences), the two team up to throw three separate parties for each child. Watching them try to appease their kids and make all of the guests happy at each party was hilarious, but the fact that they wanted to work together to accomplish it made it very sweet.
As the season progressed we saw the difficult times that the couple faced together. Even in the midst of disagreements and troubles the love always remains. This is rare to find on television these days.
While much of the credit obviously goes to Moore and Ventimiglia as actors, I must say that the writing is what truly makes it all the more worthwhile to see. In each episode the family is faced with real issues and we get to see them navigate the lows and highs that perfectly reflect the human experience.
Sterling K. Brown went from killing it as Christopher Darden in The People vs. OJ, to killing it as the adopted son and devoted family man in This is Us. His character Randall is a complicated person and understandably so; raised by white parents in the suburbs and feeling like an outsider throughout his childhood has made him an interesting adult. Brown does the character such justice and he has a lot of material to work with here.
Justin Hartley stars as Jack and Rebecca’s other son Kevin, a frustrated actor who has come to a crossroads in his career. At first glance Kevin comes across as a self-centered playboy, but as the season progressed I found him to actually be a very layered person. Hartley does a good job of portraying Kevin. He’s charming when he needs to be and pouty when it’s required. Of the Pearson kids, I would have to say that Kevin is the one I’ve seen the most growth in this season.
The relationship between these two brothers is difficult to explain. There are unresolved issues and resentment left over from childhood, but as adults it really seems like the tides may be turning. In Episode 15 (Jack Pearson’s Son), Randall experienced a severe nervous breakdown and I was moved to tears when it was Kevin who rushed to his side to comfort him.
Chrissy Metz portrays Kevin’s twin sister Kate. She is unpredictable in her decisions and actions, yet somehow still very relatable. Kate has struggled with her weight from childhood and recently decided that a change needs to be made in her lifestyle. She is sensitive, caring, and wildly supportive of both of her brothers. Metz plays the character with a lot of honesty and vulnerability, which has been great to witness onscreen. Kate is truly the character I found myself rooting for the most this season.
This is Us also has an amazing supporting cast. Susan Kelechi Watson plays Randall’s wife Beth. She is a really strong character and a ride-or-die for her family, particularly her husband. Watson’s quips and facial expressions often help infuse humor into a show that is dealing with so much heavy material.
Kate’s fiance is named Toby and brought to life by funnyman Chris Sullivan. Toby is warm, hilarious, and honestly a great match for Kate. This is a relationship that took a lot of hits this season, but I think that it will prove successful because these two complement one another so well.
Randall’s ailing biological father William, played by Ron Cephas Jones, is a character who surprised me a lot this season. In the beginning all we knew about him was that he was a recovering drug addict who was obviously lonely in life. In Episode 16 (Memphis) we really got to know a lot about his upbringing and his passions in life before he got very sick. Jones did a fantastic job bringing the character to life and even though William passes away, I look forward to perhaps seeing him visit Randall in dreams/daydreams much like Jack still does.
The three children who play Kevin, Kate and Randall (Parker Bates, Mackenzie Hancsicsak, Lonnie Chavis) are all fantastic. The same can definitely be said for the three actors who play them during their teenage years (Logan Shroyer, Hannah Zeile, and Niles Fitch). I think that it’s extremely likely we will see more of the teen versions in the second season- especially since it’s been revealed that Jack passed away while “The Big Three” were still in high school.
If you haven’t been watching This is Us, and you have a slight case of FOMO I suggest you check it out as soon as possible. No word yet on the Season 2 premiere date, but This is Us has already received the green light for two more seasons!!
Did you enjoy last night’s season finale of This is Us? Share your thoughts and favorite moments below!