Transparency of “This Is Us”

With the hit show Parenthood completing its run in 2015, This Is Us has successfully filled the show’s absence in 2016. Although I will always hold Parenthood near and dear to my heart, This Is Us has proved to be a force to reckon with. Bringing emotions to its viewers every week, the show is dominating viewers. Nonetheless, the show definitely has gaping flaws that need to be addressed.

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Ever since it first aired, This Is Us has been sweeping the nation. I was actually kind of perplexed with this because it appears to be an average family drama that has been repeated on prime time television constantly. However, the creators of the show took a different approach. Instead of focusing on the characters in a straight sequence, the creators split the series between time periods. One focuses on the past with a couple, Jack and Rebecca (Milo Ventimiglia & Mandy Moore), having and raising their “triplets”. The next sequence is current and focuses on those three children, Kevin, Kate, and Randall (Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, & Sterling Brown). The show pans out and displays how crazy life is for each of them and how the love they share motivates them. For fair warning I will be sharing a few spoilers for those who haven’t watched it yet. For some quick information the show can be watched through a cable service On Demand, or streamed for a price on NBC.com. Eventually after the first season or a few, a streaming service will more than likely buy the rights and it can be streamed easier. Landing in the Watch It category, This Is Us is a recommended watch, but is easily an over-dramatic show that creates huge questions. Now without further ado back to the review.

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Jack and Rebecca have their triplets, but not without complications. One of them is lost in the process, but as it happens another child is brought to the hospital, parentless. Jack and Rebecca adopt that child and it fulfills the triplet status of their children. As they grow each child naturally gains their own identity. Randall, who was adopted and is African American, struggles to fit in while also being in an advanced learning track. Kate struggles with her weight and body image, and Kevin struggles with not being noticed/neglected since he doesn’t seem to have any obvious struggles. As the show progresses you see how each character develops and how conflict and solution affects each of them. Beautifully presented, the show has definitely mastered warming a viewer’s heart, but sometimes to the point where the heart has become overheated.

This Is Us - Season 1

Perhaps this is where my praise diverges into criticism. The biggest thing that stands out about this show is how unbelievably unrealistic it is. Guaranteed all shows have some unrealistic feature, but that is in a fantasy sense. In this show there is no fantasy it’s just flat-out unrealistic. I’d like to say I am a pretty decent boyfriend, but they make the standards for a male in the show incredibly impractical and I’m not talking about the countless times Jack, Randall, and Kevin just so happen to be shirtless. For instance, Jack has a drinking problem and then with one confrontation with his wife he gives it up completely within minutes without help or aid. Alcoholism is a serious illness that deserves to be much more developed on the show. Another minor instance, is that in his past he was trying to make ends meet by robbing , but he gives it up easily when he meets his wife. There seems to be no buildup with these issues and no continuation with them. It seems apparent that the creators of the show caught wind of these criticisms and are beginning to cover this more in the latest episode, which just so happened to be the season finale. Hint: Jack’s alcoholism comes back into play after YEARS of sobriety. Every problem covered by each of the characters just seems to be swept over. Take Kate as another example. Her main issue is her body image and how it has been incredibly hard for her to find love, but then nearly two males ending up vying for her. I doubt the viewers who fall into the same issue remember the times they had suitors fighting over them.The creators have to realize that they have license to continue these problems into other seasons. It feels rushed and not lifelike. It’s not a movie, they can continue and build these issues before the solution or unrealistic element kicks in.

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My favorite episode so far is the perfect example of how I really love the show, but its flaws are so apparent. In episode 16, Randall and his birth father, William (Ron Jones), tour his actual dad’s home grounds before his oncoming death. William’s introduction is another development on the show. The episode brilliantly weaves in the culture of his dad’s past while displaying the classic love between father and son. My tears came naturally while watching this episode and I enjoyed viewing William’s story as I prepared to see him die. While that was moving, it made it clear how convenient that there’s an adopted black son in the show. I mean how did it just so happen that an abandoned black baby is left at a hospital where a white family just lost one of its triplets? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great story line and they try to make up for it with the pool scene and now William’s past, but it just seems so fabricated and too good to be true. They even develop William’s character into being bisexual. It is perfectly plausible, but just raises questions. Now that they are exploring black culture in the 1960s it just feels like they are taking advantage of diversity. See it as you please, but it just sticks out like a sore thumb to me. I am all for representation on shows, but why couldn’t it be a black family with an adopted white baby? It just feels off. I can see how someone would argue differently since it explores the struggles a black child has growing up with a white family. However, in terms of where we are in 2017, I question the exploited diversity. Warranted, the show has created a successful flow with fully blossomed characters that connect to viewers nationwide. While these are major blemishes, it still is an addicting new show to watch that will remind you to appreciate yourself and those around you.

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Author: Connor Schmiegel

Classic rock fanatic, actor, tv & film buff, and political talker. Currently discovering my way in life.

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