Not many shows can harness the ability to be poignant, yet lighthearted while avoiding much of the major cheesiness that is attributed with Primetime TV.
“This Is Us” could be one of them.
After the trailer garnered an unheard of 50 million views in just 11 days this past May, according to the website Deadline, the entire world waited with bated breath to see if the series would live up to the hype of the trailer.
So far, so good for NBC’s latest project. Achieving exceptionally high — and deserved — ratings from Metacritic and IMDb, “This Is Us” works in ways where many other series fail.
The opening scene reels the viewer in, setting up for an hour of cathartic television. The pilot seemingly does it all; combining love, loss and the pursuit of a biological parent in a way that shouldn’t work, but does.
Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) plays the part of tortured, soon-to-be father perfectly. His positivity over his wife Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) high-risk pregnancy with triplets is contagious, although his grief over the loss of one of the “Big Three,” though realistic, is almost overplayed.
We also can’t forget the stellar guest performance of Gerald McRaney as Dr. Katowsky, the obstetrician assigned to the couple’s case. His heart-to-heart with Jack serves as the turning point for the couple’s storyline as they mourn their stillborn triplet.
Sterling K. Brown, Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” in hand, turns in a remarkable performance as Randall, a married man with two kids looking for his biological father, William Hill (Ron Cephas Jones). When Randall ultimately finds Hill, it’s bittersweet. His anger towards his father is palpable, arguably the best acting of the pilot. However, the driving force behind Randall’s decision to accept Hill and go so far as to take Hill into his home is beyond me.
Although Kate’s (Chrissy Metz) storyline seems basic enough — she’s overweight and finally ready to “lose the damn weight” at the insistence of herself and her twin brother, Kevin (Justin Hartley) — it needs some serious revision. Kate is solely characterized based on her weight, which is obviously a sore spot for her. Why, then, is it one of the only characteristics that the audience knows her by? Her love interest, Toby (Chris Sullivan) is utterly forgettable and only feeds into her overweight persona.
Her twin brother Kevin’s characterization, on the other hand, is much more realistic. His superficial role as the “manny” on a reality TV show, the latest in a string of small parts, leaves him visibly frustrated and makes him a more relatable character.
Dan Fogelman, the creator of “Crazy, Stupid Love,” gives the public what they’ve been looking for since the end of “Parenthood” almost two years ago: a feel-good show that pulls at the heartstrings while providing the audience with a laugh.
“This Is Us” airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.