This is Us just completed its first season and has already been renewed for two more seasons. Unless the heart beating inside your chest has more gunk and splotchy dead tomatoes than Mr. Grinch, this show will move you to tears more than a few times. Men, don’t be afraid to let this show touch your heart. Ladies, make your men comfortable enough to allow their hearts to be touched.
The real genius of This Is Us lies in the way its story unfolds in an ever-changing time shift sort of way. It doesn’t unfold like most dramas do with a beginning to end narrative. Instead, the pilot opens in 1980 during the birth of the three Pearson siblings and moves forward to present day and then back to the days leading up the birth. Each episode moves the story along nicely while never remaining in the same time for more than a scene or two. We have watched the story develop over a span of 40-plus years with large portions of the story taking place in the late ’70’s, early to mid ’80’s, and the present day. Each episode reveals a look back into the evolution of the Pearson clan as well as their present day lives. I don’t care for television shows or movies that excessively time jump or play the alternate reality narrative to the point of confusion and ultimately cause me to lose interest. Both of these traps are avoided by co-showrunners Dan Fogelman(Crazy, Stupid, Love) and Don Todd(Samantha Who?) with great skill. Hopefully, the departure of Todd and additions of new co-showrunners Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, both of whom worked with Todd on The Neighbors and Grandfathered, will be smooth and not disrupt the enlightening and emotionally satisfying journey thus far.
There are no weak links in this cast. While Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore get the most press, and rightfully so, my favorites in this inaugural season were Ron Cephas Jones and Chris Sullivan. Jones plays the biological father of Randall Pearson(Sterling K. Brown) with so much remorse and gratitude that you will surely pause to reflect on some of your own life decisions. Sullivan is, well, the funniest guy on the show with a supernova talent for making you feel the love he has for fiance Kate Pearson, played so earnestly by Chrissy Metz.
If you haven’t yet watched but plan to do so, keep the tissues within reach.