This is Us: We’re glad you’re back!

by | Oct 3, 2017 | All, Reviews

In the interests of full disclosure, I love This is Us. It’s cheesy and sentimental but there are also plenty of funny moments and it’s so well made you can lose yourself in this glitzy family saga. The show follows three siblings in the present day but uses flashbacks to when they were young so we are able to follow their parents’ story too.

A show that comes with its own self contained origin story is a genius idea. It allows the easy introduction of multiple new characters – either in the past or present – and with so many characters the possibilities are endless yet the show never loses sight of the family at the heart of the drama.

When the show debuted in the US this time last year it proved an instant hit and forced critics who had long written network drama to take notice. There’s a chance you missed its UK on Channel 4. For reasons better known to Channel 4 they started it in a crowded November with little promotion. Initially giving it a primetime slot of 9pm it then got moved and jotted about the schedule that only those with the show on series link could keep up.

Season 2 starts with the twins Kate and Kevin (Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley) and adopted brother Randall (played by the brilliant Sterling K. Brown) celebrating their 37th birthdays while we jump back to the aftermath of their parents Rebecca and Jack’s (Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia) make or break fight 22 years earlier. In the present it’s all going on for Kate with her burgeoning signing career, Kevin with his acting career looking up (with a cameo from Ron Howard as his director) and this episode focuses on Randall and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) who are looking to adopt.

Initially Randall is keen on adopting a baby in order to replicate the opportunities he was given – there’s a comic scene early on when you think he has already done this – but Beth convinces him they should try to adopt an older child who no one else will want. It’ll make for a much more interesting storyline and I look forward to seeing how this one plays out. Setting the story among the rich and famous cuts out a lot of everyday problems but the show does explore the characters well. I always liked the relationship Beth had with Randall’s natural father, the comically named (for UK viewers at least) William Hill (Ron Cephas Jones) and I was pleased that they still had a scene with them both in it this time.

The cast work so well together that you imagine they’re enjoying making it as much as the audience are watching it and I love all of the characters. Except Miguel. I’m not sure about Miguel. How did he end up with Rebecca? Was it before or after Jack died? I want to know NOW. We inch closure to that reveal in this episode but still don’t quite find out.

The episode ends with what appears to be the immediate aftermath of Jack’s death which looks to be as a result of a fire at their home. Was it due to his drinking? We’ll have to wait until the next thrilling instalment. With so much story in each episode I expected a factory full of writers to be working on it in shifts but only three are listed for this episode. They must be exhausted.

The show’s executive producer and occasional director, Ken Olin, is a safe pair of hands for this kind of TV. From his acting days in Thirtysomething to producing shows like Brothers & Sisters he’s comfortable working with an ensemble cast and each has a strong storyline of their own.

Although groundbreaking television can be exciting, it’s comforting when something new yet familiar comes along, especially if it’s done really well. This is Us is one of those shows – a guilty pleasure without the guilt – and the second season looks set to be as good as the first. I just hope if it returns to Channel 4 they give it the prominent placing its deserving of.

This is Us Continues Tuesdays at 9.00pm on NBC.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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