This Is Us Pulls All The Right Strings

Warning: This review contains spoilers of the premiere of This Is Us.

It’s been almost two years since Parenthood aired its final episode. So by now, you should have had just enough emotions (and tears) built up to get you through the series premiere of This Is Us. NBC’s newest hour-long show premiered tonight and is poised to take over network programming this Fall.

As one of, if not the most, highly anticipated programs this Fall (the trailer has nearly 9 million views on YouTube), This Is Us had a lot of hype to live up to. Of course, a good number of those views could be thanks to Milo Ventimiglia’s bare butt being the first thing we see. True to the trailer, the opening shot of the show is the same full moon.

With that, the show demonstrated just how big the range of emotions would be for the night. We start out laughing and enjoying the playful birthday celebration between Jack and Rebecca, adorably played by Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore. The chemistry between the two is immediately apparent and will make for an excellent pairing throughout the show. When they lose their third child, it was impossible not to break down with them.

Shortly after that, we’re introduced to twins Kate and Kevin, and Randall, who are each (begrudgingly) celebrating their 36th birthday. Each storyline balances funny, heartwarming moments (Randall calling his daughter “his little badass” will live in my heart forever) with equally heart-wrenching moments as the characters all work through their respective issues.

In promising a show full of hope, strength, forgiveness, love and courage (all of these adjectives found in the trailer), it’s easy to think that This Is Us would feel a bit too thick. And yet, show creator Dan Fogelman figured out a way to avoid the terrible cliches and melodrama of most series of this type. When Jack gave his rousing speech in the delivery room, I was just as in love with him as his wife at that moment. When Randall found his estranged birth father, every emotion he showed was believable, also proving why Sterling K. Brown took home an Emmy last weekend.

Through all the hype of the show, one thing that was consistently promised was a twist you wouldn’t see coming. This turned out to be only half true. While I personally didn’t guess the exact twist, I did work out that these characters were all somehow in the same family. For those of you, that guessed correctly that Jack and Rebecca are actually Kevin, Kate and Randall’s parents, well done. Nonetheless, it’s an intriguing and original twist that I’m interested to see play out in the episodes to come. The show is working with two entirely different timelines – a factor that can add real depth to the characters, or real confusion to the audience.

In all likelihood, This Is Us will join the Emmy race very quickly…and it should.

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