‘This Is Us’ Is Everything
Out of the dumpster fire thats is cable television comes a smart, emotionally masterful series that will have you reevaluating your life with every episode.
By Mattie Winowitch, Waynesburg University
Generally when it comes to television shows, the phrase “hit or miss” comes to mind.
The phrase pertains to the basic idea that the show either sucks or, well, it doesn’t. Lately on TV, it feels like there are a lot of shows that suck. These shows don’t just suck because they are god-awful and lack necessary plot lines, but they suck because they quite literally suck every good brain cell left out of your skull.
Think about it. You know it’s true.
But, when it comes to the big screen in our living rooms, this isn’t a new concept. For decades, show producers have been trying to find the best formula for TV shows and programs that will make viewers addicted. Sometimes, these “suck-ish” shows do just that.
Think of bad TV shows as drugs. Everyone knows they’re terrible for you. But people still do (or in this case, watch) them, and damn, does it feel good. People get addicted and the ratings go up. This isn’t rocket science: Humans—Americans in particular—love things that are bad for them. If they threw in a commercial for a Big Mac and a tanning bed, sales would probably skyrocket. Again—sad, but true.
Taking this all into consideration is part of the reason why it is so awesome when a series comes along that makes us forget all about the trashy shows we are so used to watching, and NBC’s “This is Us” is one of those shows.
I’m going to try REALLY hard not to give away spoilers while continuing to talk about this show, but it might be damn near impossible. That being said, you might want to at least watch the first episode, then continue reading to see why you should keep watching. However, if you don’t feel like you have to binge-watch the rest of the series after the first episode (which is freaking amazing, BTW), you might be part robot. That, or the brainwashing has really sunk in from the rest of the shitty shows you watch. Sorry, pal.
Let’s focus on what’s important, though. Why is this show SO amazing?
Well, for starters, the show’s writers completely mastered the sometimes difficult-to-master concept of mixed story lines. The main advertisement for the show (which you can watch here) demonstrates that there are at least four story lines. One deals with a sweet couple, Jack and Rebecca, who are expecting triplets. Another story deals with a woman named Kate who is struggling with being morbidly obese. The next storyline deals with Kevin, who is a sitcom superstar struggling with his identity. And the final story line deals with Randall, a man who is struggling with confronting his biological father who abandoned him shortly after his birth.
When I first watched the advertisement for this show and was introduced to these very different characters, I had a hard time picturing how any of these storylines could possibly overlap. After watching the first episode—which turned into binging the rest of the series—I was astonished. I learned in my English class that sometimes good TV can be just as stimulating as reading a book, because it requires us to make cognitive connections between plot lines. I don’t think I’m too far off in saying “This is Us” is the “Wuthering Heights” of TV.
This series is also so good because it deals with realistic scenarios. While shows like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” or “Pretty Little Liars” are captivating, the characters often deal with issues that aren’t realistic to the viewers—for example, Kim K losing her diamond earing in the ocean during her family’s beach vacation, or, you know, teenage girls being involved in murder on PLL. “This is Us” is different because it deals with situations that, while they are crazy and jaw-dropping, are realistic. They are situations that could in fact happen to real people like me and you.
Another reason why I love this show so much and why I want everyone in the world to watch it is because it makes you examine your own life. The characters are wholesome, and they make me think about my actions and the problems I face. The relationship that Jack and Rebecca share makes me look at my relationship(s).
The strength Kate shows when dealing with her weight problem makes me examine my own self-confidence. Kevin’s issues with his identity and his job make me think about what I want out of life. And Randall’s display of courage inspires me to be courageous in my life. These characters aren’t just one-dimensional droids. They are human and they make the viewer think, which is rare when it comes to TV.
“This is Us” is also manipulative as hell. Every episode makes me cry. Every. Single. One. And you should know that I am not an emotional person. In fact, I am the complete opposite of emotional. But something about this show makes me lose my shit.
The writers manipulate you by allowing you to relate to, and become very connected with every character. This way, when something unfortunate or really great happens to them, you can’t help but shed a bunch of tears and sit on the edge of your seat until you watch the next episode, and then it happens all over again. It is an ongoing cycle of tears. You will need a lot of tissues if you watch this show.
With all of this in consideration, if you are looking for a new show to kick the year off with, “This is Us” is a wholesome, feel-good series that will make you laugh, cry and think all at the same time. The show is just starting to roll out more episodes, so start binge-watching this weekend so you can catch up. “This is Us” airs at 9/8 C on NBC or the following day on the NBC app.