Let’s face it, TV shows are a dime a dozen. How many have started up, only to disappear after the first season? Very few shows have captured the attention of the public, got them talking and even made them cry. NBC’s new hit series, "This Is Us," is one of those exceptions. In fact, the trailer for the show garnered more than 17 million views in three days on Facebook alone, setting a record for a new fall show.
"This Is Us" is centered around a couple, Jack and Rebecca, who build a unique family dynamic when one of their triplets dies at birth. That same day, another baby is brought to the hospital after being surrendered by his father. Jack and Rebecca adopts this child and call their children “the big three.” We watch as events play out, both in the past and present.
In last night’s episode, “The Pool,” Jack and Rebecca take the kids to a community swimming pool and it’s there that we start to understand the unique complexities that follow Kevin, Kate and Randall into their adult lives.
The thing this show can do so well is cut through the cliches that other shows have and instead give TV viewers a piece of real-life emotions.
Presently, Kate is conflicted in her relationship with her new boyfriend Toby. In the flashbacks at the pool, young Kate, who struggles with her body image, is given a cruel note from a group of girls that state they don’t want to play with her. Her father gently tells her she can wear his old shirt to cover up her body.
Kevin, meanwhile, gets a part he wanted in a play, after getting fired from his TV show, “The Manny.” In the flashback at the pool, he is unable to get the attention of his father, and almost drowns. He confronts Jack, and we hear a heartwarming confession from his dad: “This is my first time, too. I got three of you. I should have been there. I’m gonna be there.”
But probably the most heart-wrenching of all is the story line featured around Randall, the sibling adopted at birth. Prior episodes revealed the appearance of his birth father, William, in his life again as an adult. While out shopping, Randall stops William and asks about the awkwardness between them. With tears in his eyes, Randall tells William, “Because I grew up in a white house, you think I don’t live in a black man’s world.” In the flashback, his mother, Rebecca is searching for him and eventually finds Randall in an area of the pool where African-American families are. She gets defensive with one of the mothers, saying, “He’s not supposed to be over here. ... I just want him where we can see him.” The black mother shoots back that Rebecca needs a barber who knows how to cut black hair.
The show doesn’t shy from the tough topics like racial disparities, weight issues and infant loss. In the first episode when Jack finds out one of the triplets didn't survive, audiences were tearing up over the scene when Dr. K gently breaks the news to him. He then reveals to Jack that he and his late wife, too, lost a child. He relays his experience in the hopes that one day Jack can tell someone else that even though life handed him the sourest of lemons, he was still able to make lemonade. As a fellow baby loss mom, this had me crying. The thing this show can do so well is cut through the cliches that other shows have and instead give TV viewers a piece of real-life emotions. What resonates most for me, however, is that the flashbacks help explain the current issues the three children are struggling with. How you are raised really affects the way you live now.
As a mother, and as a daughter and wife, this is something that hits home for me. It makes me think about how I raise my daughter and how my actions and what I say to her will have an effect on her and her future. How will my husband and I handle it when she is left out of social groups? How do I deal with my own issues about my body while still teaching her that all bodies are beautiful? If we have more kids, how do we divide our time and attention so that all our children feel heard? Like the events on the show teach us, there are no easy answers.