Exploring the art of storytelling.
I decided to check out This Is Us to see what all the fuss was about… The pilot was filled with great acting and interesting characters.
One of the best scenes in the pilot was when Kate weighed herself. There was a shot of her with her back to us as she stood on the bathroom scale. She was only wearing underwear, so she was completely vulnerable. We could see every curve and crevice of her body. It was apparent that she was very overweight. And seeing her stand on that scale was heartbreaking. This one shot illustrated how much this physical flaw is weighing down on Kate both literally and figuratively. I immediately felt sympathy for her.
The biggest moment of the pilot was the twist. The creative team was clever in tricking the audience into thinking that everything was happening in present time. There was one hint at the very beginning of the episode: in Rebecca and Jack’s bedroom, there was a box labeled “Family Photos ’75-’79.” I assumed (as I’m sure most people did) that this was a box of old photographs rather than recent photographs. The creative team continued to keep us in the dark with nonspecific sets and costumes. For example, Rebecca and Jack’s bedroom was all white (the sheets, the furniture, etc.) and mostly empty–it looked like they recently moved in. The highly anticipated twist occurred when we saw the firefighter light a cigarette in the hospital. Then, everything unraveled… The camera stopped focusing on our characters and literally took a step back. We saw people dressed in 70s garb with 70s style haircuts. The TV showed coverage of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. In the next scene, we switched to the present as Kate and Kevin recalled the quote about lemons that their father used to say–the same quote the doctor shared with Jack the day his children were born. Suddenly, it was revealed that these characters were far more connected to each other than by just sharing a birthday. This smart, original concept was revealed with flawless execution. The twist was unpredictable, yet easily believable.
Based on the siblings’ conversations, we know that Jack passed away some time before the “triplets” turned thirty-six. That definitely triggered my curiosity… What happened to Jack? He wasn’t old enough to just die from old age. Did he get sick? Was he in an accident? I’m sure that this mystery will slowly be unraveled as the story progresses.
Why didn’t Randall celebrate his birthday with the rest of his siblings? I felt bad for him (even though he didn’t seem to mind), but I’m sure it’s something the writers will (or definitely should) address in future episodes.
This Is Us is being advertised as a dramedy, but it’s definitely more of a drama. I didn’t find any of it funny or comedic. In fact, it had a very serious tone.
Unfortunately, the pilot episode wasn’t gripping enough for me. It followed these characters’ everyday lives. I think it’s a very interesting concept–watching a family grow and develop and seeing where they end up by jumping in time–but I don’t know if it’s intriguing enough to hold my interest. I probably won’t continue to watch This Is Us. I’m sure it has great potential, but the pilot wasn’t exciting nor funny enough for me. It’s almost too realistic and I find that boring, not entertaining.