This Is Us, directed by Dan Fogelman, takes you on a journey in the lives of the Pearson family; a journey that is blissful, despite its fair share of sorrows. The show narrates the lives of the Pearson siblings in the present and uses flashbacks to recount their lives as kids along with the individual odysseys of both the parents. Jack and Rebecca are two individuals, no different than you or me, who cross each other’s paths when it was unforeseen for either of them, only to find that they belong with each other. When one of the triplets die during birth, Jack, who is set on the idea of bringing three kids home, decides to adopt a black kid who was brought to the hospital on the same day. In the present day we can see the many ups and downs that these kids face as adults now.
The show sails back and forth smoothly through the past and present. It does an astounding job by trying to show every character’s perspective on the same situations allowing the viewers to understand the various reasons that lie behind their course of actions. Amongst the several emotional breakthroughs that the story has, Jack’s death breaks your heart and at the same time makes you realise that something as inevitable as death can come to you when you expect it the least. Losing a loved one is hard, but what is harder is dealing with that pain and accepting it.
In spite of being a major tear jerker, This Is Us consists of various beautiful moments, both big and small. Whether you see Dr. Katowski, the gynaecologist who delivered the kids, become the family’s biggest support during their hard times and vice versa in the past, or Randal and Beth who garnered the courage to welcome Deja, a teenager from a foster home, into their house, nourishing and protecting her like their own in the present, the series shows that the people who make up our family aren’t just confined to blood ties.
The show strikingly puts forth the issues of addiction. Alongside showing that it’s never too late to ask for help, it also portrays the problems of addiction as realistically as possible by showing how it can actually take a toll both on the victim and the people around them. You can see the prevalence of the alcohol addiction gene in three generations starting from Jack’s father to Jack and then to his son, Kevin. The three of them show a remarkable contrast as the kinds of person they are. While Jack’s father was a hostile drunkard, Jack is a compassionate individual, who prioritises his responsibilities towards his family and works hard to be a better man than his father. Kevin’s addiction stems from his repetitive failure as an actor which brings back several occurrences of past trauma, including the knee injury that required him to give up football which he believed was his calling. After an emotional explosion in therapy, the intention of finding a goal to achieve strengthens his path to sobriety. Giving in to stress and relapsing is easy, but conquering it becomes less difficult, once you are determined to help yourself.
There’s emphasis on several mental illnesses in the series, starting from Randal’s anxiety and panic attacks (which is mostly focussed upon), to Jack’s PTSD, and finally a glimpse towards Toby’s depression. Most of the times you can see these three men going above and beyond for their loved ones, trying hard to be their rock, but deep down these men also fear that any day now their worst self could take over and ruin things for the people they hold dear the most. All these issues which these characters deal with are very much real and show that not every person who is suffering from a mental illness comes from a strained family. Sometimes we develop them on our way through life and it is nobody’s fault.
With Jack’s untimely death, Rebecca finds herself all alone with three teenage kids, not having a single clue how to deal with anything without him by her side. But instead of falling apart you can see her pulling herself together so that she can be the lifeline for her children. When her first grandchild is born, Rebecca breaks down saying that even the happiest moments in her life are going to be a little sad because Jack wouldn’t be there to see them with her. Grief, pain, and hardships don’t make us weak but show us that we have survived some of the very worst things that life throws.
This show in so many ways, teaches you that life isn’t just about surviving the hardships but about living the moments and in order to do that one must learn to allow the joys and sorrows to co-exist.
This Is Us isn’t just the story of the Pearsons, but it’s the story of life itself. With a heartfelt background score that stays with you long after the show ends, it makes you weep and smile at the same time. The show makes you realise that you should take time out of your life to appreciate the people around you for nobody is leading a perfect life, but when you stick together hurdles of life become a little less scary. Gaining and losing are both parts of an individual’s journey. But in order to fully enjoy the gains in life, you have to accept the loss and let it go so as to make space for the gain. This show in so many ways, teaches you that life isn’t just about surviving the hardships but about living the moments and in order to do that one must learn to allow the joys and sorrows to co-exist.
About the Writer
A curious individual trying to coexist in two worlds – one being the real one and the other full of my characters from my favourite movies and TV shows. These characters have taught me a lot more than any real person and everyday I look forward to meeting new ones.