Why Everyone Must Watch THIS IS US During the Fall
*Disclaimer: The article consists of spoilers for those who haven’t watched the first two seasons of the show*
As I eagerly sat down to watch the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards this week, I was quite surprised to see that none of the cast members from This is Us, except Ron Cephas Jones, had taken any awards back home this year. Jones won the award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for playing the biological father of the character Randall Pearson, who is portrayed by Sterling K. Brown. Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz, and Justin Hartley who play the Pearsons - Rebecca, Kate, and Kevin respectively - did not earn even a single nomination at the Emmys this year, despite their impeccable, groundbreaking performances in the previous season.
It was only a year ago when Sterling K. Brown had said that his win at the Emmys was a historic one, since he happened to be the first black actor to win an Emmy award nineteen years after Andre Braugher won the same for Homicide: Life on the Street. He was nominated along with co-actor Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Jack Pearson, in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the second time in a row. However, fans of the show are especially upset and disappointed with the way Mandy Moore’s performance has been snubbed. She was truly the highlight of the last season where she effortlessly managed to balance her screen time of playing a young widow desperately trying to come to terms with her husband’s sudden demise and that of a fragile but headstrong woman in her mid-sixties who continues to be the strong backbone of the Pearson family.
The show revolves around the lives of the Pearson family and almost instantly attracted the attention of a million viewers ever since it premiered in 2016. Fans are still as excited to watch the show as they were two years ago. I remember how I unexpectedly began watching the show around the same time last year. Strangely enough, I found myself liking it in spite of being someone who prefers watching light-hearted comedies over prime-time dramas, let alone the tear-jerking ones. I would rush home every weekend to catch up on the latest episode, and this unknowingly became my Saturday night ritual. Before I knew it, I was hooked.
One of the recurrent themes of the show sheds light on the childhood flashbacks of the Pearson siblings, Kate, Kevin and Randall, which gives us a little more insight and perspective for attempting to understand their behaviour while dealing with strikingly similar situations in the present.
For instance, Kevin struggles to make it big as an actor after not being able to pursue a football career, due to his knee injury back in high school. Apart from his brief stint as a popular quarterback on the school football team, acting was yet another profession that required him to stay in the limelight. A lot of Kevin’s resentment and frustration emerges from the fact that he isn’t the successful actor that he once thought he would be.
Meanwhile, Kate is shown grappling with significant body image issues concerning her weight loss and she subsequently joins a support group where she happens to meet her future husband Toby. She is further shown battling her own internal struggles and doubts that she faces as a singer, since she feels the weight of her mother’s unfulfilled dreams resting solely upon her shoulders. To add to this, she also goes through a miscarriage that turns her world upside down, but she gradually recovers from it along with Toby and her mother, Rebecca’s, help.
Randall, on the other hand, has always felt like the oddball of the white neighbourhood that he grew up in, since he was adopted by Jack and Rebecca after they lost their third triplet Kyle. While he is forever grateful to his family for providing him with the wonderful life that he has now, he is still curious about his roots and tracks down his biological father William, with whom he has very little time left to spend due to William’s deteriorating health condition.
However, no matter how complex these issues might seem, they all have an unwavering connection with Jack’s demise. Even after so many years, this incident leaves a scarring impact on the lives of the children who lost their “world’s most perfect father” at a very young age. It results in Kevin inconspicuously turning to alcohol and drugs everytime he remembers Jack, Kate still blaming herself for his death, and Randall adopting Deja, a teenage foster child, to provide her with the same opportunities that were once given to him. Randall’s decision to take in Deja largely has to do with the fact that Jack had always been clear about wanting to have Randall in his life, even when his wife Rebecca was unsure of the same. His hardships include him going through frequent, ongoing custody battles with Deja’s biological mother Shauna, which initially led to Deja having strained relationships with the rest of his family.
Surprisingly, while the last two seasons have primarily consisted of flashbacks, the final episode of Season 2 reveals startling flash-forwards after Kate’s wedding to Toby. It shows Kate nursing a clinically depressed Toby, Kevin flying to Vietnam to learn more about Jack’s past and get some closure, while Randall and his daughter Tess are preparing themselves to see a certain unnamed woman, even though they aren’t quite ready to confront her yet. The third season, which premiered on September 25th of this year, will place more emphasis on their individual storylines, independent from that of the Pearson family. Supposedly, it will focus more on the lives of Beth (Randall’s wife), Toby (Kate’s husband), Miguel (Jack’s best friend) and his relationship with Rebecca after Jack’s demise, as well as Deja, who is going to be a very important character in the upcoming season, so it will be interesting to see how this engaging drama will unfold in the next few seasons.
Although, the show addresses extremely relevant issues concerning racism; adoption and foster care; alcohol and drug abuse; pregnancy and miscarriage; eating disorders and body image issues; or even something as significant as the loss of a loved one, it somehow beautifully manages to provide some comfort as well as reassurance to its audience without sugarcoating the harsh realities of life. By normalizing our vulnerabilities, imperfections and flaws in the characters of Kate, Kevin, Jack, Rebecca, or Randall, it gives us the strength and power to overcome our own battles with a little more ease, thus, encouraging us to be stronger, evolved, and more positive versions of ourselves in the process. It also reminds us of the fact that each and every one of us in this world carries with ourselves some kind of baggage, and therefore we must always treat others with kindness, love, and empathy.