Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve at least heard about NBC’s latest attempt to pull heartstrings and draw you in each week with a TV show called This Is Us. It’s basically an hour-long cryfest every Tuesday night…and I mean that in the best way. Honestly, after a recent episode, which largely focused on the relationship between a father and a son, I paused to consider if I needed to purchase a pregnancy test the next day. My emotions were that crazy.
I’m not pregnant but am definitely crazy about This Is Us.
When the series finale for Parenthood aired in January 2015, I almost swore off TV forever. Who in the world could possibly replace the Bravermans? Well, nobody really…so I thought. Fast forward a year-and-a-half, and NBC has redeemed itself by introducing us to the Pearsons. The show is written so that there are flashbacks to the family’s younger years, and the story is so delicately and brilliantly told, that it’s hard not to get excited about Tuesday nights. The characters and their relationships resonate with so many. It’s like flipping through old photo albums with faded photographs of birthdays, vacations, and holidays.
We are all Pearsons…
The wife and mother of the show is all of us. She loves her children fiercely, even the child she didn’t birth. I’ll never forget the pool episode where Rebecca realized that her African American son, Randall, desired to hang out with other children who looked like him. At first she was reluctant, but she then realized that this was, in fact, the best thing she could do for him. By allowing him to take risks, she developed a relationship with an African American family. Rebecca showed a determination and sacrifice that is refreshing for the audience, especially mothers.
Rebecca also displays what a marriage looks like. She loves her husband fiercely, but there are times when they argue and fight, just like any married couple. I love the episode where she is big and pregnant and her mood pushes Jack, her husband, away, to the point that he leaves her alone for the day. When he is gone she realizes that she forgot that his birthday was that very day. Despite the fact that she’s close to nine months pregnant and without a car, she walks in the sweltering summer heat to the closest place she can to look for a birthday treat for Jack because she feels so badly for kicking him out of the house for the day.
We are all Rebecca because at one point, our desire to have a healthy, happy, and balanced family life crashes against our desires to live out our dreams. She struggles with the decision to go on tour with her band, where she is the lead vocalist. In one particular episode, she learns something troubling about one of her children and begins to second-guess her decision to take off during such a challenging time for her family.
Jack is pretty much perfect, so I’m not sure that we can relate to him…at all.
Just kidding. I did just view previews for the next episode, and there might be some shortcomings. Nobody is perfect.
The husband and father of the show is all of us. One of the first emotions we see Jack display is fear. Don’t we all have fear? When he is at the hospital for the birth of their triplets, he breaks down after being told that one of their triplets didn’t make it. Dr. Katowksi, played by actor Gerald McRaney, then persuades him to adopt an African American baby who was brought to the hospital the very day his babies were born.
Jack is all of us because he works tirelessly to provide for his family, even when it might not be the exact career path he would have chosen. Like Rebecca, he makes sacrifices in order for their family to function. He is a very engaged father who sometimes goes over and beyond for his children’s happiness. Who could forget the birthday episode? After seeing that his daughter, Kate, who chose to have a “Madonna” party is a little down, he brings her back to life with his Vogue. Swoon.
Randall is all of us because he struggles with anxiety. In fact, in one episode he has a panic attack. The pressures to succeed at his company, as well as care for his ailing father and provide for his family come crashing down on him. He can no longer balance all that life has thrown at him, and he crumbles. It is because his brother’s love that he is able to stand back up, take a deep breath, and focus and prioritize. This leads him to take a leave of absence from work to spend time with his father, who is battling stage 4 cancer. Like Randall, many of us have walked through the ugliness of cancer with someone. I certainly have, and losing my own dad made me look at my life on this Earth differently. Randall walked through those last days with his dad in a memorable way, giving him a different perspective on life. Like Randall, we need to “stop and smell the roses.” The fast pace will eventually catch up with us.
Kate is all of us because she deals with self-esteem issues, specifically her weight. Since she was a little girl, she struggled with her size, even checking out tags to look at the number and comparing them to her mother’s tags. There are moments where she tries to diet and exercise, only leading to failure. She knows that her weight is an issue and goes as far as booking a month at a resort to assist her with losing the weight. Many of us have experienced a time in our lives where we have struggled with bad body image. She also feels lonely sometimes, even while engaged to Toby. In one episode Toby presses her to talk about her father, and she closes up like a clam. She has experienced loss, and the memories of her father have led her to stuff emotions that are fighting to let loose. This is such a hard thing: vulnerability. Many of us have also held onto emotions and out of fear or pride or both, stuffed them and let them fester instead of talking about them.
Kevin is all of us because he has a fear of commitment. His fear of commitment has to do with women, but ours could be anything really: jobs, activities, organizations, etc. He wanders in and out of relationships for fear of having to settle down. It feels permanent, and it scares him. He also takes risks after walking off the set of his popular TV show in Los Angeles. He wants to spread his wings and fly in another direction: theater. This new stage forces him to stretch and grow in ways he never imagined. He finds out what he’s made of and that he’s stronger than he thinks. We have all been in those situations. Change is scary but imperative if we are going to grow.