Did you like Parenthood? Gilmore Girls? Give This is Us on NBC a chance.
Did you hate Friday Night Lights? Hart of Dixie? Give This Is Us a pass.
There are some very mild spoilers in the upcoming review because it’s impossible to talk about the show without revealing the characters relationship, which is the surprise of the first episode.
This is Us is the the story of a non-traditional family, twins and a brother, and their lives. It’s a prime-time soap, but intelligent, no brain transplants or evil twins, just a family drama. I have extremely high hopes for it, although right off the bat it’s a little gimmicky. It’s kind of hard to boil down because I have no idea where it’s going. But it seems to have the same format as Arrow, flashbacks to formative moments that explain the decisions made by the characters in the contemporary timeline.
The cast of This Is Us was across the board good, although hats off to Milo Ventimiglia, who is finally living up to all that promise he has always shown. Maybe he had to grow a beard, but he finally seems like an adult. Mandy Moore is his wife, who we mostly get to see being a real person as she gives birth to triplets with no real ground-breaking there, but solid stuff. Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, and Sterling K. Brown are all great as the siblings around whom the action seems to occur. Brown is hilarious as an adopted kid meeting his birth father who wants to be angry with him, but can’t quite maintain it. Metz is an overweight woman struggling with slimming down who discovers love along the way and can’t quite believe it. Hartley is hilarious as an actor undergoing a crisis of conscious on a dumb sitcom, and surprising two young ladies interested in a threesome by letting them know a little about his real life.
There was a whiff of Mike & Molly about Kate, Metz, and her possible boyfriend, Toby, as in meeting in a weight loss meeting, irascible “I want to eat food” jokes. But it wasn’t too bad and I’m hoping that the story stays sophisticated and respectful. Overweight people are a group that it’s still all right to make fun of on TV, but there’s a fine line where it’s being handled realistically— as an eating disorder— or being played for laughs. Although I did feel like the human parts were brought on by the actors, not the writers. Chris Sullivan and Chrissy Metz are making the most of their opportunity and they are not squandering any moment.
At least part of it takes place in Pittsburgh. I’m from Pittsburgh. Represent, Milo and Mandy!
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