A new breakout TV show this year has been NBC’s This Is Us. It tells the tales of a group of people who share the same birthday and how they navigate the triumphs and sorrows of life. It brings all of the feels with very little of the sickly-sweet saccharine plots that many other shows live off of. You really should be watching this show and here are 10 reasons why. [There are NO spoilers below!]
1. Great Storytelling
The way each of these plots and the lives of the characters are woven and interwoven and layered is top-notch storytelling. There is nothing contrived about any of the storylines and there’s always something new to discover. The writers are true masters of this art.
2. It’s actually pretty darn Pro-Life
Without going into too much detail (no spoilers!), this show treats every stage and situation in life with dignity, respect, and love. Absolutely no one is every treated as a problem to be solved or replaceable, though the characters do sort out different aspects of and problems in their lives.
3. The main couple is just awesome
Jack and Rebecca are the married couple on the show and what an example of marriage they are! Throughout their disagreements and dark spots, they always come back to each other in love to sort through their issues, grow together, and let go of their own baggage. They are far from perfect people, but they are perfect for each other and this shines through everything. They are also really awesome parents who make mistakes and missteps and maybe don’t even know the negative (and positive!) effects they have on their kids, but they love their kids fiercely. They face heartbreak early on in the series but what they do with that will inspire you in your own life, I guarantee it.
4. Randall, this guy
Randall goes searching for his biological father and then has to deal with the consequences of his findings- both good and bad. Randall is special because he knows he needs his family, even though he is very driven and independent, and constantly leans on them for support. Every decision Randall makes is with the good of his family in mind and rarely does he make a decision without them- he knows how fortunate he is to have his family and tries not to take them for granted.
Kate is morbidly obese and goes on a journey to change that. What she finds, though, is how lonely she truly is and learns that loving herself is the first step to any change. Her weight, though always at the forefront of her mind, is truly secondary to all of her other growth and change and treated as simply a vehicle for this change. Watching her work through all of her issues has been one of the true treats of this show because her growth is never contrived and her emotional well-being is never treated as something that will instantly (or at all) get better simply with weight loss. Plus, her relationship with Toby is funny, sweet, and a real example of people bringing out the best in each other even when they disagree.
6. Pretty amazing display of fatherhood
William has faced a lot of loss in his life- a man who was once a sensitive, creative soul had become closed off and bitter to fend off all that life threw at him. Figuring out his motives and watching William bloom again displays that there is always goodness and light in life, if you’re willing to let it in.
7. Failure is a reality
Kevin is a guy you love to hate- he seems like the perfect, white, American male who is a spoiled brat and unable to cope with the realities of life, constantly seeking others to bail him out and build him up. As his story unfolds, it turns out there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Kevin and, although you (ahem *I*) still want to strangle him half of the time, you can’t help but root for him. All of the other characters on the show want Kevin to succeed, too, but not in a career, simply as a person. Easily the most irritating character on the show, Kevin may also be the biggest surprise.
8. An OB/GYN with wisdom
An older OB/GYN who has a lot of wisdom that he shares in the most authentic of ways, Dr. K is a gem, a rare find in a person or character. We only get snippets of Dr. K’s life but none of them are throw-away moments, each one building up not only his character but that of the other characters he encounters. He has a take charge personality but incredible bedside manner, Dr. K actually is a catalyst on the show.
9. All of the other characters
None of them are contrived or throw-aways and all serve a greater purpose. It’s rare to find so well-developed minor characters, even ones that appear only once. This makes the series feel real and adds to the authenticity of the journeys of the major characters. It also reminds us that no one we encounter is truly a minor character, even if they only walk past us on the street, but are, rather, the main characters of their own stories.
10. The setting is pretty great, too
Pittsburgh, PA is a city we don’t tend to hear a whole lot about outside of football season and certainly not one that many shows or movies take as their setting. But Pittsburgh is actually a phenomenal city and place to live and raise a family, full of rich history and small-town feel, despite being a major city. This Is Us captures Pittsburgh in all its glory and all its failings and treats the Yinzers who reside there (although no one on the show speaks Pittsburghese) as the colorful, community-centered people they are (how many other cities can say that or have the same colors for all of their sports teams? This is truly a hallmark of Pittsburgh and, I think, one of the reasons all of its people bond together so well). [FUN FACT: My German immigrant relatives funded the building of one of the churches in Pittsburgh in the early 1900s!]
This Is Us is truly a gem of a show and one you absolutely should not miss. It is worthwhile to invest your time in this show! But make sure to have a box of tissues handy- the show doesn’t shy away from emotions and the journeys are tremendous. Even though the characters sometimes make questionable choices and are not the model of virtue at all times, who of us are? The realness of characters discovering more about themselves and becoming better people in the process is something we can all relate to and gain inspiration from. You can catch This Is US Tuesday nights at 9/8c on NBC or on Hulu.com.