This is Us


Just finished watching the season 3 premiere which contained a surprising amount of pretension in the writing that made for some confused goings at times. OK, first off I need someone to explain the whole Franco Harris thing and what it had to do with these characters we already know and love.
I had no idea who Franco Harris was when I saw the episode, so I Googled him. (I thought he was going to be a fictitious player who was just made up for this show, but apparently he's a real person, and a real ex-football player.)

According to Google, he made an amazing "miracle" touchdown in a Super Bowl game back in the 1970s, and that play won the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think that's supposed to be the connection to the show. Maybe it's a comparison to Jack and Rebecca's relationship working, even though she seemed to be with another guy when Jack showed up. Or maybe it connects to Kate and Toby trying to have a baby, even though they only have a 10% chance of success. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

On the positive side, I absolutely LOVED the first meeting and first date between Jack and Rebecca and I loved that it was an absolute disaster. Jack's speech in the car coming home from the carnival was brilliant and it was great seeing Milo Ventimiglia sans goatee. He looked 10 years younger and not like a 70's porn star.
I felt so bad for Jack when he didn't have enough money to buy her an umbrella. I kept hoping that he would tell her the truth, and she would understand. I was glad that he finally told her, and it wasn't "too little, too late". Now we just have to see how he gets rid of the other guy.

I felt bad for Kate and Toby when they received their news but the way Kate brought down her birthday luncheon was wrong and made any sympathy I had for her fade away. I'm so tired of Kate wallowing in self-pity and this was just another example and the fact that the doctor changed her mind at the end didn't make me feel any better.
I was hoping that maybe this would have been a "wake-up call" for Kate to realize that she has to lose weight for her health, but they didn't go in that direction. I wasn't happy that the doctor changed her mind either. I thought that was too predictable, and the wrong decision, but I love seeing how much Toby loves her, but sometimes I think he deserves better than her.

Speaking of wallowing in self-pity, I'm also sick of Daija and her constant whining about her parents not loving her. Why can't she just accept her new family and forget the past? The look on Randall's face when she got upset with him comparing his life to hers was heartbreaking. Sterling K Brown is an amazing actor.
I think they're finally moving Deja's character in a better direction. She seems to be starting to give up on her real parents and accept her new family. Hopefully she'll be more likable now because they've upgraded her to a regular character on the show this season.

I'm also looking forward to finding out why such a positive and outgoing character like Toby is on anti-depressants.
I'm dying to find out what's going on with him. I just hope that he makes it through whatever it is okay. He's one of my favorite characters on the show.

Oh, and Kevin and Beth's cousin has disaster written all over it.
I don't have much hope for them as a couple either.

I still love this stupid show.
Me too.

Just finished Season 3 Ep 2, a rich and complicated hour with the Piersons. Got a lot of insight into Randall during this episode...he said it best himself. He's either trying too hard or not trying hard enough. He can never find that balance. I liked that he went to see that city councilman about fixing up that rec center, though I don't think a real life councilman would have been that cooperative. There were some strong moments with teen Randall too...even though Rebecca is not my favorite person, he was totally out of place speaking to her that way and I was very disappointed with him deciding not to go to Howard. He seems to think he's the only one who can save Kevin and Kate. The hurt that he felt when he learned what Kate said at the premiere was palpable and came right through the television screen. I loved when Toby told off Rebecca but I'm REALLY worried about him. Sterling K Brown continues to be one of the best actors on network television right now. I've probably mentioned this before, but after this episode, I have to say it again. I must applaud the casting people for the casting of teen Kevin, teen Kevin, and teen Kate...they are practically mirror images of Justin Hartley, Sterling K Brown, and Chrissy Metz. I love this stupid show.

Ep 3 was a mixed bag which I had definite issues with...Kate's whole out of body experience was creepy and weird. Once again, we are bombarded with Kate's slightly unnatural attachment to Jack and watching the younger Kates making fun of her was just not entertaining to me. I understand why they were doing it but it doesn't mean I have to like it. Kate needs to put her feelings in perspective about her father and move on with her life. On the other hand, I was totally behind Kevin wanting to find out about his father because Kevin's relationship with Jack as a child was always very surface and I hope it's not too late. I loved when he sent that e-mail to Mr. Robinson and the actor playing Mr. Robinson was Charles Robinson. This was also the first episode where I saw my favorite character, Jack, make a wrong move. Even though his intentions were golden, Jack was wrong to make his mother move out of her home. It would have been one thing if she wanted to leave and asked for Jack's help, but that was not Jack's decision to make. And the whole Jack and Rebecca taking such a long and winding road to get to each other is wearing thin...did we really have to watch Rebecca in shop class in high school? And her waffling between Jack and that other guy just made her look slightly unstable. There also has to be a point to Beth being fired all of a sudden, but I don't know what it is. I still love this stupid show.

Ep 4 bordered on brilliance...this was the kind of storytelling that attracted me to this show in the first place. Jack has always been my favorite character on this show and this episode confirmed why. Credit goes to director Ken Olin and the incomparable writing team for telling the story of Jack and his little brother, Nicky in reverse. I was shocked to learn of Jack's irregular heartbeat which initially kept him out of his service but I LOVED that he wanted to go to Vietnam anyway to keep an eye on his brother. Michael Angarano was terrific as Nicky...have loved Angarano ever since he played Jack's son, Elliott on Will & Grace. Ken Olin must also be credited for a stylish directorial touch of that scene with Nicky asleep in bed with the book in his lap, while outside, Jack was trying to keep the peace between his parents...beautifully done. It was daring of this show that is so dependent on its full ensemble to focus an episode on one character but they nailed it. I hope Milo Ventimiglia submits this episode for his Emmy reel. I love this stupid show.

Ep 6 was mixed bag...I actually loved that Randall didn't blow away all those Philadelphians the way he thought he was going to. I loved the complete realism of that whole situation...the way the black folks show up anywhere for food but really aren't interested in what goes along with it. I don't understand why every time teen Kate feels like singing, Rebecca feels the need to barge in and show her how to sing. I'm also not really enjoying watching Miguel playing father to Jack's kids, even if it is what Jack wanted. Though the roots of Toby's depression were kind of predictable, learning about them were no less compelling. Loved Wendie Malick as his mom but I'm really worried about Toby, I hope this time off his meds hasn't done too much damage. I love this stupid show.

The Adventure Starts Here!
Me too. Even when it borders on melodrama, it still feels realistic about it and NOT melodramatic (if that makes sense). It's one of about 3-4 shows I am certain to watch as soon as I can once an episode airs.

Ep 6 featured some exceptional acting that made some hard-to-swallow dialogue almost tolerable. Susan Kelechi Watson was nothing short of brilliant as Beth finally admitted the fact that she resents being unemployed, but I'm not sure if working with Randall on his campaign is the answer. I did love the way Randall got himself a campaign manager though. I did have trouble accepting these wise-beyond-their-years Pierson children manipulating the adults in their lives. Daija's speech to Beth and young Randall's explanation to Jack about why he wanted to box both came off as contrived. Loved Milo Ventimiglia in that scene though...can we just give this guy an Emmy already? I love that Kevin wants to go to Vietnam but I really don't want to learn that Jack was really in love with this woman. Loved everything that happened between adult Randall and his opponent for City Council too. I love this stupid show.

The Adventure Starts Here!
Ha! Brilliantly put. And yes, I do wonder sometimes about the conveniently wise statements from the kids. I think they could have had both Deja and young Randall say the same things in more appropriate "speeches" -- you know, not *speeches* at all, but just blurting things out the way kids do.

And YES YES YES to the stupid idea of Beth working on Randall's campaign! HOW does that validate her? Frankly, if my husband had suggested something like that, I'd immediately brand him as a narcissist. Because clearly it's all about Randall. The fact that she didn't punch him in the face astounds me.

There was some interesting parallels in storylines created in Ep 7, even if it did try viewer patience waiting for the parallels to manifest themselves. I was about 40 minutes into the episodes before really seeing the parallel between Jack and Rebecca's trip to LA and Kevin and Beth's cousin's (can never remember her character's name for some reason) trip to Vietnam. Never really understood all this attention to Jack's time in Vietnam this season since it really doesn't seem to have much to do with the Jack we met during the first two seasons, but I guess it's a way to keep the character a viable part of the canvas since he's dead. I have to agree with Jack's brother who said the guy has a Superman complex. I don't see how he thinks he can get his brother out of Vietnam and I was shocked that his brother's commanding officer actually gave Jack two weeks to work with him, really can't imagine something like that occuring IRL. And I don't know what he was thinking going to that guy's parents and saying that he was responsible for their son's death? It looked like the parents had already had closure with what happened and Jack shows up and opens those wounds all over again? His taking responsibility wasn't going to bring the guy back, but it does fit into the kind of guy Jack is I guess. And am I the only one who thinks Beth's cousin has never told anyone else but Kevin about being abused by her father? That freaked me out when Kevin found her in the bathtub. I love this stupid show.

The expected Thanksgiving connections made in ep 8 made for some compelling programming and some equally dull programming. Let's get this out of the way, the conclusion of the story about Jack's necklace was a HUGE letdown and was so not worth Kevin travelling all the way to Vietnam. I understand where Jack's brother was coming from, but it was still wrong of him not to help Jack with that little kid, despite the fact that Jack didn't really need his help. With his lengthy absence from the canvas, I found that I really don't care about William anymore and I care even less about his British cokehead lover (Denis O'Hare). And even though I've always hated Miguel, the Thanksgiving dinner at his daughter's house was the best scene in the show, fraught with tension. It was nice Kate bond with her niece and LOVED the reveal that Randall's daughter might be a lesbian.

It's been about 5 or 6 episodes since it's happened, but Ep 9 proved that this stupid show still knows how to make me cry. The scene where Tess confessed to her parents that she might be gay had me weeping. Little Eris Baker totally nailed that scene conveying this little girl's terror in how her parents might react to her revelation and, as expected, Randall and Beth handled it beautifully, but the multiple reveals that came from that scene were jaw-dropping and I did not see coming AT ALL. I was also fighting tears during the Jack/Nicky scenes though I was a little disappointed when Kevin first mentioned that Nicky had died during the war because I expected us to be shown how Nicky died, but that also went a completely different direction than expected. I also have to give a shout out to Randall during that debate scene but was shocked that he might be putting this election ahead of his marriage. I was a little confused as to how Toby and Kate went from not knowing what the sex of the baby was to cutting a gender reveal cake and watching Kate whine about having to give up her job doing singing telegrams and being shocked that she couldn't teach without a college degree were tiresome, but the good definitely outweighed the bad in this episode. God, I still love this stupid show.

This stupid show came back with a vengeance last night. Ep 10 was very special because it required complete attention. Tracking the timelines on what was going on here was kind of tricky, but it was worth the work. LOVED everything that happened between Beth and Randall...Susan Kelechi Watson and Sterling K. Brown are magic together and I'm still reeling over the revelation that this marriage is going to end at some point because I thought this was a marriage that could withstand anything. Ep 9 was our first glimpse into the future on this show and it was interesting that it was regarding Randall and Beth. I'm glad that they didn't make us wait another episode to find out if Randall won the election, that would have been maddening. Kevin needs to run from Zoe as far as his long legs can carry him. At first I thought she was just a commitment-phobe, but this girl is toxic, evidenced in that very telling scene with the congressman she broke up with via e-mail. I don't believe anything that came out of this girl's mouth and am certain she is going to chew up Kevin's heart and spit it out. Kate's corny speech to the geek to get Toby's action figures back was actually legitimized when the geek said no. Toby continues to be the world's best husband, completely accepting of Kate's totally unnatural obsession with her father. I love this stupid show.

OK...I don't know how else to say it but Ep 11 DESTROYED me. After two and a half seasons of worshiping the character of Jack Pearson, I saw him in a completely different light in this episode and the light was not a very flattering one. First of all, I have to say that the juxtaposing of Jack's reunion with Nicky and the siblings meeting Nicky for the first time was brilliant. But I found it very difficult to be on board with a lot of what Jack did in this episode. I understand his feelings to a point, but what happened was a terrible, tragic accident and to cut Nicky out of his life because of it was just wrong. I mean he didn't even let Nicky explain, I just don't understand it. I also don't understand why he felt he had to lie to Rebecca about where he went. I had this character on a pedestal for two and ahalf years and he tumbled off it last night. I swear my heart broke when the siblings informed Nick that Jack was dead and that he didn't even know about it. I also loved the separate stops at the convenience store where they showed Jack in front of the sign showing one way to Bradford and one way to Pittsburgh and then showed the siblings in front of the same sign. God, I hope they can convince Nick to come home with them. The acting of Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Angarano, and especially Griffin Dunne as the elder Nick was superb. This stupid show continues to blow me away.

The Adventure Starts Here!
I'm not sure how I felt about what Jack did. At the end, Nick keeps saying Jack never let him explain that it was an accident. So Jack cut Nick out of his life because he thought he'd killed that kid on purpose. (We can half-believe this because of earlier episodes where Nick is constantly berating Jack for being nice to the locals, calling them all "enemies," even the women and children.)

I can see why Jack wouldn't have listened to Nick at that point early on, because he'd been dealing with Nick's sh*t for so long that it was a case of the boy who cried wolf. You gotta put some blame on Nick for that, at least. However, Jack continuing to not listen was not cool. Then again, why didn't Nick just put on one of those postcards, "It was an accident"? Honestly... sometimes this show does the stupid thing soap operas are known for, and people don't say or do the obvious things and then Big Misunderstandings ensue, which drive the plot forward in awkward, almost unnatural ways. This felt like one of those.

Having said that, I too liked the juxtaposition of the kids and Jack both visiting Bradford. (I live in the Pittsburgh area, so I always enjoy those parts of this show.)

And I like that we're going to see everyone in this family take a second hard look at Jack and his unblemished role in their family. If he hadn't died, they might have begun to see some of his flaws more clearly. Dying young tends to give someone elevated status and an unfair untarnished reputation, even if it's not deserved. The man was human, after all. I'm almost relieved to find the writers have chosen to make him human, finally.

I was beginning to wonder if it was ever coming back but Ep12 was solid and worth the wait. Exceptional work by Griffin Dunne as Uncle Nick did everything he could do to avoid connecting with his sister-in-law and niece and nephews. Loved when Kevin and Rebecca commiserated about how angry they were with Jack about keeping Nick a secret. Didn't initially understand the connection to the Nick story and Kevin and Rebecca standing in line to meet that baseball player, but as I realized what was going on, I came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth the time. Randall and Kate in those strangers' house arguing about the sequin fight was totally squirm worthy. I liked that Nick told Kevin he would go to a meeting, but I didn't believe him. Nick has given up on life and plans to drink himself to death even if Kevin refuses to accept that. And why the hell did Kevin have to take a drink at the end of the show? Was that really necessary? . Oh and one minor quibble...supposedly Nick had no idea Jack had a family before the previous episode. How did he know that Kevin was a movie star? This stupid show continues to run roughshod over my emotions

OK, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Episode 13...we had to wait two and a half seasons for it, but we finally got a glimpse into Beth's past, an insightful and deeply moving glimpse into the kind of person Beth is. Phylicia Rashad once again was given the opportunity to show why she was one of the industry's most underrated actresses...she had me wanting to slap Beth's mother silly at the beginning of the hour and then wanting to give her a big bear hug at the end. That final scene at the breakfast table between Rashad and Susan Kelechi Watson was incredible. And, of course, I now understand the scene we had a couple of weeks ago showing Beth in the future running a dance studio. Also LOVED that we got to see the first time Beth and Randall met. A big bouquet to Carl Lumbly who was just heartbreaking as Beth's father. This is the first episode centered on a single character other than Jack and they hit the bullseye. The casting people are geniuses on this show...the actress who played teenage Beth could have been Watson's younger sister. I absolutely love this stupid show.

The Adventure Starts Here!
Agreed on the amazing casting of teen Beth, even if they DID have her in period-inappropriate attire. (Pretty sure folks weren't yet wearing ripped jeans like that 20 years ago.)

And even though this show doesn't offer amazingly deep insights, and even though it often ventures into almost sappy melodrama, WHY WHY WHY do I end up ugly-crying during nearly every episode?

For me, this one hit more than a few nerves. Early adulthood robbed me of so many of my dreams, which I am only recently getting back (in my 50s). They somehow managed to walk that fine line and stayed *just* on the right side of it, never completely veering into cheesy stereotypes. Totally agree on Rashad (subtly hating her at first, then totally understanding her at the end).

I love this stupid show, too.

And even though this show doesn't offer amazingly deep insights, and even though it often ventures into almost sappy melodrama, WHY WHY WHY do I end up ugly-crying during nearly every episode?


Let me finish untangling my guts before I talk about Ep 14...I thought graduation was a really interesting hook for another look at the past and present with the Piersons. I have to admit by being a little thrown by teen Kate's harsh reaction to teen Kevin going to New York, did not see that coming. I HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE what they're doing to Kevin...why does he have to relapse now? His career is about to finally take off why can't they let this guy have some success? I'm also not crazy about the fact that if Kate loses this baby, that Toby is going to blame Kevin. I hope he remembers that Kate was warned months ago that having this baby was a HUGE risk. Rebecca was kind of annoying, grief is one thing and self-pity is another and Rebecca was walking the tightrope here, using it as an excuse to make her kids graduation all about her. Deja needs to get over school would ever recommend that a student skip a grade unless the student was worthy and capable of handling it. The idea that they were doing it because she slept in a car was stupid. And has Randall lost his damn mind? Beth supported him when he moved his bio father into their home and supported him when he bought their dad's building and supported him when he ran for city council in a town three hours he has the nerve to ask her to quit her job because it doesn't pay enough. My synopsis may seem like it contradicts, but I still love this stupid show.