Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

"This Is Us"

An interesting thing that I've noticed that I've been doing for 2018 so far is talking about more current pop culture events.  This wasn't intentional, but so far I think I'm liking it.  As well, whereas 2017 was more music themed, I think 2018 seems to be focusing more on television.  And why not?  I think as we get further into the year, 2018 seems to be the year where we are entering another golden age of television.  There are a lot of really well-written shows on both cable networks and online streaming sites, and the choices are endless.

Sometimes, you never know what show you'll become engrossed in until you sit down, watch an episode, and hours later you're on episode seventeen and realized you forgot to eat lunch and dinner!

Well, okay...maybe that's a little extreme, but you get the picture.  Truth be told, last week I got ensnared in the binge-watching trap and found a show that lots of people have been talking about and it is considered one of the highest rated television series of the 2016/2017 television season.  In fact, it is a show that was so well received that it was automatically picked up for three seasons AFTER THE FIRST EPISODE AIRED!  In today's television landscape, that never happens!

Of course, there hasn't been a show like "This Is Us" to come around in years.  It's the television show that has essentially made NBC "Must See TV" again after almost an entire decade of flop after flop.  But the series - created by Dan Fogelman - is one that is really unique in that it tells the story of a family dealing with the happy times and the sad times.  The show is unique in that it tells the story through time jumps.  One moment, you're in the year 1980, the next, you're in 2016, the next, it's 1998, and so on, and so forth.  It's like "Cold Case", but without someone getting murdered each episode. 

Though, there is one person in the show that IS dead...but we'll get to that a little later.

Part of the charm of "This Is Us" is the brilliance of the cast.  The cast as of season two (and it's a large cast indeed) includes Milo Ventimiglia (Jack), Mandy Moore (Rebecca), Justin Hartley (Adult Kevin), Chrissy Metz (Adult Kate), Sterling K. Brown (Adult Randall), Logan Shroyer (Teen Kevin), Hannah Zeile (Teen Kate), Niles Fitch (Teen Randall), Parker Bates (Child Kevin), Mackenzie Hancsicsak (Child Kate), Lonnie Chavis (Child Randall), Susan Kelichi Watson (Beth), Chris Sullivan (Toby), Ron Cephas Jones (William), Eris Baker (Tess), Faithe Herman (Annie), Jon Huertas (Miguel) and Alexandra Breckenridge (Sophie). 

As mentioned about, the show revolves around a family.  In this case, the Pearson's.  Jack and Rebecca are married and Rebecca delivers triplets on Jack's 36th birthday - Kevin, Kate, and a third baby that was stillborn.  As luck would have it though, a firefighter finds an abandoned baby at a firehouse and Jack and Rebecca adopt him and name him Randall to complete their "Big Three".  Tragically (and I suppose I can share this now since most everyone has heard about it by now), Jack dies when his children are seventeen, and since then, the Big Three have had to deal with their own issues following Jack's death.  Kevin has to deal with finding his footing as an actor while simultaneously battling a drug addiction.  Kate is an aspiring singer who just happens to have an issue with her weight and body image.  And while Randall seems to have every cog in place, the reappearance of his biological father causes him to re-evaluate everything important to him.

The series begins on the Big Three's respective 36th birthday celebrations where all three kids come to a realization.  Randall discovers that he wants to have a relationship with his biological father, William - who happens to be dying of cancer.  Kevin quits his sitcom after he is fed up with the writing and opts to start a career in theatre.  And at a weight loss support group, Kate meets the love of her life, Toby, and embarks on a relationship with him.

It's a wonderful series that depicts every possible emotion you could experience.  You'll be shedding a lot of sad tears, but there are some comedic moments where you'll be shedding some happy tears as well.  Let's put it this way, you'll need to have lots of Kleenex on you.

And please...don't destroy your crock pots either.  Anyone who knows what I am talking about has likely watched the show!

So, how is the best way to talk about the various characters and storylines?  Well, I think that when it comes to the Pearson family, the best bet is for me to talk about each character by ranking them from most favourite to least favourite.  Though this has nothing to do with any of the actors.  All of them are outstanding and I think all of them deserve an Emmy award for their fine work.  But some characters are more developed than others, and I am sure that as the show continues we will learn more about them and my rankings will change.

For now, here's my list.


Okay, you know something, Jack is NEARLY the perfect dad.  He's really the dad that everybody wants to have.  He is kind, he is loving, he is supportive, and he will do almost anything to make sure that his loved ones are okay.  In fact, you could argue that resolve was ultimately what killed him - but that makes us love him even more for it.  Of course, he may be my favourite character on "This Is Us", but even he's not perfect.  His penchant for alcohol is one flaw he has.  And while the Pearson family might hold him in high regard, that's not to say that Jack doesn't have more secrets to unearth.  For now, he's the glue that essentially holds this cast together - in life and in death.


He may not be biologically related to the family, but Randall is every bit a Pearson.  And as the only one of the Big Three to have a family of his own, he is definitely following in Jack's footsteps as far as fatherhood goes.  With his lovely wife Beth, he is raising his two daughters with as much love as Jack showed him.  He's arguably the most financially sound of the Big Three as well, and he certainly seems to be the guy that everyone seems to hold in high regard.  The reunion with William just made Randall that much likeable.  My only foible with Randall is that at times the show depicts him as TOO perfect.  And unlike Jack, it means that Randall sometimes comes across as being on auto-pilot.  The story arc with William certainly helped Randall develop as a character, and I want to see more of that as the show progresses because it makes him a much richer character.  We all know Sterling K. Brown can act (he has the awards to prove it).  I hope to see more of it in action.


She's the middle child of the Big Three, and the middle character in this list.  I don't dislike Kate, but I'm not over the moon over her either.  During season one, it was as if every single storyline was about her weight issues.  It was fine for a little while, but it should have never been the main focus because otherwise we'd lose interest pretty quickly.  But as season one ended and season two began, Kate's popularity grew on me.  It helps that the child and teen actresses are probably the closest to Chrissy Metz's real looks and mannerisms which makes her the most believable of the characters.  But I think her relationship with Toby (which I wasn't feeling during season one, but like a lot better in season two), as well as her aspiring music career has helped flesh her out as a character.  And from the flashback scenes of Jack's death, we sort of understand why Kate turned out the way she did - well, as least partially.  And another reason why is linked to #4 on my list.


Look, I have nothing against Mandy Moore.  She's a great actress, a great singer (yes, I'll admit to having "In My Pocket" and "I Wanna Be With You" on my iPod), and frankly if she DOESN'T get an Emmy nomination at least, the system is flawed.  She has put out some awesome work this year.  That said, the character she plays is the definition of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".  I don't think Rebecca means to be overly critical...she really does want what's best for her family.  I just think that she makes a lot of poor decisions.  It's hard to excuse the fact that she hid William from Randall all those years, but seeing her explain why she did what she did...I get why she did it.  It still makes it the wrong choice, but I get where she was coming from.  But the criticisms she gives to Kate about her singing and her appearance likely sparked Kate's issues with positive body image, and I feel as though this will be an ongoing thing.  I also want to understand how she and Miguel fell in love.  After all, Jack and Miguel were best friends.  There's still plenty of story to tell with Rebecca, and the second season has done well in trying to repair the relationships between Rebecca and her kids...but more work needs to be done.


Again, this has nothing to do with the actor who plays Kevin.  Justin Hartley is a fantastic actor as are the two other actors who play young Kevin.  They all do a great job in portraying a character who makes questionable choices and some rather selfish decisions.  And yeah, during season one, Kevin was NOT my favourite character.  He seemed to lack direction in a huge way, and while he seemed to take one step forward once in a while, he would take about eighteen steps back the next episode.  I also didn't appreciate the fact that he treated Randall so terribly during their formative years, and I thought he was sort of a jerk.  It actually wasn't until we saw Kevin go into rehab and open up more that we learned why that was the case.  I have hopes that Kevin will become a better character, and every now and then he will have flashes of brilliance that makes me think that he's a great character.  But he does have the roughest road to redemption.  But hey, as I said earlier, Justin Hartley's a great actor, and I think he's up to the task.

So, that's my entry on "This Is Us".  And now that I have finished it up, I need to buy some more Kleenex.  Do you agree or disagree with my list?  And do you have any "This Is Us" moments that you want to talk about?  I'm open to hearing them!

No comments:

Post a Comment