We started watching it on a whim. It popped up in our Hulu feed. I have read the hype and seen snippets of the show. I’ve avoided it. I can say, from the bottom of my heart, that I detest hype. The more PR a show/person/band/event gets, the more I want out. Call me jaded if you like. I don’t care. Too much pushy hoopla turns me off.
But this show caught me. The characters (who knew Mandy Moore had such range?) and their foibles, their regular-people struggles, and their small victories got under my skin. I found myself tearing up at nearly every episode. The story of The Big Three, which is actually a Nixon reference, made me laugh.
If you haven’t watched the series yet, I’ll give you a little background. Three children, born on the same day in 1980: Kate, Kevin, and Randall Pearson, form the nexus of the storyline. Kate and Kevin are twins. The third of the “Big Three” – original triplets – died in utero. Randall is adopted by the parents, Jack and Rebecca Pearson. I should mention the timeline jumps back and forth from 1970s-1980s and back to the present, filling in gaps in the characters’ histories. Sidenote: This is one of the few shows where the dad doesn’t come across as an inept moron. He gets to be a real loving, masculine person who speaks into his children’s lives. At least as far as we’ve watched, which is most of the first season. So if that changes in Season 2, don’t tell me!
What I love about the show is that the actors show you why they did what they did. There isn’t a lot of talking and pedantic explaining, not a lot of Agatha Christie-style denouement. You find out how Randall came into the Pearson family. The sibling dynamics come to light. The mother-daughter relationship dance between Kate and Rebecca unfolds as we flash back to Kate’s girlhood. Sometimes, we even get glimpses of Jack and Rebecca’s childhoods.
Do I agree with everything on the show? No. I don’t. Ruby watches it with us, and we talk about the characters and their actions. Not everything anyone does lines up with the best choices. Also, I remember thinking the title was too…lame. Too simple. It seemed like nobody tried. They pulled random show titles out of a ratty hat.
Why is this show’s style of portraying people important? Because people don’t jump up at birth and say, “I’m going to be a jerk to everyone I meet, just because!” We have been shaped by our experiences. In fact, we are never done being shaped, good or bad.
Really, if we’re honest, we should probably be announcing this whenever we enter a room. “Greetings! This is me. I’m a product of the attitudes, actions and circumstances of my life up until this very moment. Some may be readily apparent as you interact with me. Some may crop up later. Regardless, this is what you get. Peace!” Like WYSIWYG of old.
Only, if you’re a believer, that’s not all. Your spirit has surrendered to Jesus’ sacrifice for you. You’ve recognized your sin, and what its cost you and others. You’ve attended (hopefully) a healthy, worshiping body of Christ. You’ve rubbed shoulders with other believers. You’ve read your Bible and worshiped. The Holy Spirit has cut out some diseased bits. Jesus has healed up your patched together, duct-taped broken heart. You’ve been forgiven, and have forgiven others. Your love for Jesus has changed your perspective and given you hope for others and yourself. You find yourself washed new every morning because of His mercies. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Bonus if you’ve discovered shards of destiny, shiny under your feet, as you walk every day with Jesus.
Is “This is Us” the best show ever? No. But it makes me fall in love with people, in all our beautiful brokenness, again and again. I have hope for us – all of us. And isn’t that the point?