The TV Weekly #201: Why You Need To Watch This Is Us

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Welcome to another edition of Why You Need To Watch…

This is where we take a look at some underrated or overlooked TV shows that are more deserving of more attention than they get.

And while this show certainly has gotten enough attention over the last few months it has aired, this is more of an apology post…from me…because earlier this season, I said some pretty unkind things about this show in the beginning but now I’ve come around to it so…yeah, let’s talk about This Is Us:

This Is Us is an American television comedy-drama series created by Dan Fogelman which premiered on NBC on September 20, 2016.

The ensemble cast stars Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Sullivan, and Ron Cephas Jones. It is about the family lives and connections of several people who all share the same birthday and the ways in which they’re similar and different.

On September 27, 2016, NBC picked up the series for a full season of 18 episodes.

The series follows fraternal twins Kate and Kevin along with their adopted brother Randall as their lives intertwine. Kate and Kevin were originally part of a triplet pregnancy, conceived in a bar bathroom during Super Bowl XIV; however, their biological brother was stillborn. Their parents, Jack and Rebecca, intent on bringing home three babies, decide to adopt another newborn (Randall), a black child who was born on the same day, and brought to the same hospital after his biological father abandoned him at a fire station.

Episodes weave through the stories of the past and present of the characters. The flashback episodes take place in Pittsburgh, while the current time episodes are split between Los Angeles, New Jersey, and New York City.

So, earlier in the year when I was talking about how network television was back, I said some pretty negative stuff about This Is Us. Why I remember it like it was yesterday…

By far, the biggest most overrated show of this year and I know there are people who are going to disagree with me on this, This Is Us, I really do not like this show at all. I tried to give the first two episodes a chance and there was just nothing there, the whole show is nothing but trying to get you to get an emotional impact out of this, it’s the most manipulative TV show I have ever seen.

And there are too many comparisons I’m hearing from a lot of people who like it to Parenthood. But here’s the thing, Parenthood wasn’t around to get a simple emotional impact out of you, it wanted to tell a good story about these people with real life situations that the TV audience can relate to and it worked, it never tricked you with cliché storylines, many of the storylines they took are real life situations and weren’t manipulative like in This Is Us.

Everything in This Is Us is completely manipulative with a lack of interesting characters or even good performances or well written stories to make the show work. It pains me to believe that people are falling for this show’s tricks, it’s not entertaining at all, it’s a bore and it’s a cliché riddle manipulative bore.

Ah, I was such a Grinch back then….only three months ago. But yeah, I’m not gonna lie, I watched those first two episodes and it just felt like they were just trying way too hard to get an emotional output out of its’ audience and that was it.

But after Thanksgiving, I decided to give it one last shot so I started right at the third episode and honestly, that third episode was the beginning of the turnaround for me and the show won me back. It just seemed like that by episode three, they finally focused the show back on developing these characters and creating these interesting storylines and I’ve really come around to liking this show the more I get into it.

In the beginning, I criticized the show for being too much like Parenthood and even said that it never tricked the audience with emotional manipulation or a cliché storyline, This Is Us, as it continues, starts to act more like Parenthood and the emotional moments in the show are more justified that I initially thought, when an emotional moment happens in the show, it works and it’s not trying to get a cheap emotion out of you solely to bait you. Especially after having to sit through that horrendous Collateral Beauty and that godawful Xfinity holiday commercial I talked about in that review.

I also said that the one person I really liked in the cast in the beginning was Chrissy Metz, who plays, Kate, the obese daughter of Jack & Rebecca grown up, and yeah, I still do really like her but I like everybody else in the cast too. The show does a really good job of developing these characters as the show goes on and the cast in this is really solid, Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore have a lot of great chemistry together, Sterling K. Brown, already great this year as Chris Darden in People vs. OJ Simpson, is really good as Randall, Justin Hartley is really solid as Kevin, Chris Sullivan, who plays the boyfriend to Kate, their relationship is nicely put together.

One of the interesting things I found about the casting is that Metz actually took the role so she could lose weight in real life and I know some people would look at that idea and be like “wow, that sounds like a lazy excuse to take the role” but really think about it, you take a role because you not only think you can play the part well enough, which she does, but you lose weight too, sounds like a win-win in my book. Better than going on friggin’ The Biggest Loser, but then again, after seeing the friggin’ women dressed as the shark on The Bachelor, there are far worse problems in reality television today…but that’s for another time.

When it comes to new TV shows, there’s a six episode rule that after six episodes of a new show, if you’re not fully involved or see any potential for it to grow, you usually step aside because a sixth episode is where a show begins to find its’ voice and for This Is Us to only get to the third episode to turn around for me, that’s an impressive feat.

While it hasn’t reached the levels of Parenthood or Friday Night Lights just yet, This Is Us is a show that has slowly but surely begun to grow on me the more and more I watch it, if the second half of the season is just as good as the first half, this show could have enough lasting power to fill that void left by Parenthood but for now, I apologize for not giving this show the benefit of a doubt and I’m glad I came back to it because it’s worth the watch.

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