The time has come again. The summer sun has set. The days grow colder and the nights grow longer and we fill those nights with new fall TV. As happens every autumn, the five major networks have unleashed a flurry of new programs to entertain us into these dark, frigid winter months and beyond. So many choices. So much risk! How will you know what to watch? That’s where I come in. I watch every new fall pilot episode so that you don’t have to. I take one for the team, so you can watch the… screen(m). It’s time for…
THE PILOT PROJECT (2016 Edition)
This Is Us (Tuesdays on NBC)
This is a fact:
According to Wikipedia, the average human being shares his or her birthday with over 18 million other human beings.
There is no evidence that sharing the same birthday creates any type of behavioral link between those people.
If there is… Wikipedia hasn’t discovered it for us yet.
When you start a new series and the first thing you hear is Sufjan Stevens, you know you’re in for a treat. Which is great, because initially, I had no idea what I was in for. I knew almost nothing about This Is Us before I started watching it. I had seen various promos, but they seemed to be from completely different shows. One such promo featured Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore giving birth to their child. Another featured Chrissy Metz and Chris Sullivan as two people who meet at a support group for overweight individuals. I never saw them, but I’m sure there were other promos featuring Justin Hartley as an actor unsatisfied with his job and Sterling K. Brown as a successful family man trying to find his birth father. These promos, however, did very little to explain what the show is about. And I’m thankful for that.
I’m not going to go into much detail about what This Is Us is about. I believe that it’s a show that is better served when you go in as fresh as possible, so I will purposefully avoid discussion of the plot (maybe I’ll make a separate post for that purpose). What I will tell you is this: it’s very good. You don’t have to finish this if you want. You could just stop reading now and go watch it, but if you need more convincing, then continue to read.
This Is Us is unlike most shows on television. Not because nobody has ever made a family drama before, but because it’s remarkably poignant. It has an endearing optimism that is sorely missing from the current television landscape. Is it possibly TOO cloying and sentimental? Maybe. But I’m a sentimental person and I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve seen such a sentimental show. A lot of people are comparing it to Parenthood, which is apt, but I see shades of Friday Night Lights here. This is a show about regular people dealing with regular problems. It’s relatable and uplifting, and I, for one, could do with a lot more of that in my television diet.
Maybe you read the above and decided that it’s not for you. That’s fair. Not everybody wants comfort TV that seems designed to make you cry. I would, however, encourage you to watch the first episode anyway. It’s a charming, well-written, well-acted show with a very intriguing premise and I recommend it wholeheartedly.