This This Is Us review contains spoilers.
This Is Us Season 2 Episode 1
A synopsis is in order for season one for those unfamiliar with the show. At its core, This Is Us, is about imperfect people, improbable situations, and second chances. Where but on television, in the movies, and in books do African American male babies abandoned at fire stations get adopted by well-meaning white suburban parents?
On This Is Us, viewers live vicariously through a nontraditional family’s past and present. The Pearsons are unafraid of showing their emotional, psychological, and physical bumps and bruises most people would rather keep hidden. The main characters are flesh and bone, with unique challenges and goals they don’t always overcome and accomplish. The writers allow the unsavory bits and human existence to land where they may.
The show traverses time, locales, and various viewpoints in hopes of presenting fulfilling character experiences and justifications for their behavior. The show wouldn’t be as successful if it didn’t rely heavily on flashbacks to drive its present-day narrative. Who are we as humans but future versions of our past lives?
The show doesn’t exalt one character over another. The show doesn’t go for the common tropes too often seen on television and in the movies. Some critics of the show say it’s emotionally-manipulative. No one can be made to feel a certain way without their permission.
This Is Us works on different levels because of the writing, acting, and directing. Race, gender roles, and body image issues are interwoven into the storyline. Prior to this show, African American adoptees were written as beneficiaries of white saviors. Obese characters more often than not were the jolly, misunderstood best friends to the leads. Sexual orientation on the show isn’t a neon sign as it can be on others. There was a collective gasp when it was revealed that William was bisexual, with a white ex-lover, no less. Viewers’…