This Is Us is a dangerously addictive show about a family over multiple generations and the extreme challenges they face. The pilot episode hooks you into a compelling drama by intertwining the lives of all the characters in a unique way. The story continues with complexities that match real life and yet what we see seems more surreal than reality.
This show is emotional. Not the setup/payoff kind of emotion but rather suffocating you with emotions until they find the right string to pull that will choke you up. This approach works in two ways: it pulled me in and then pushed me out. The first two to three episodes are brilliant with cliffhangers that rival serials of old. I found myself needing to know what happens next. Eventually, I was exhausted from all the drama-filled storylines to a point where I threw up my hands, declared it “emotional porn,” and started paying less and less attention as my wife powered through the whopping 18 episodes at 43 minutes each.
There is still a lot to love about this show though. If you can survive the barrage of emotional uppercuts and haymakers as well as the storyline following Kevin, a pompous Hollywood actor attempting to raise his goals and ambitions, then you will be in for a treat.
Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia as Rebecca and Jack bring a layered story about parenthood that is often depicted but hardly feels as authentic. Milo in particular does a great job playing the “Dad” role.
The struggles with weight and body issues as well as self-worth shown by Kate is one that is rarely seen and it is refreshing to watch when her wants and desires fall opposite of her love interest, Toby.
The story that shines the brightest, however, is the one of Randall, played by Sterling Brown. His story is a show of its own. Watching Randall struggle with control and seeing him attempt to balance family and work is extremely fulfilling. They expand father issues to entire family issues and raises important questions about identity.
Ultimately, This Is Us is a great example of the new Golden Age of television. Deep storytelling with multiple storylines and complex issues have taken over the traditional sitcom and this show represents the new era proudly.