When This is Us wiggled its way up as a frontrunner on NBC’s new fall lineup in 2016, some viewers tuned in with a bit of skepticism, including me.
After all, many of us had fallen in drunk love with the show Parenthood and couldn’t fathom anything could grapple with our heart strings quite like that.
Parenthood ran for 6 seasons with a phenomenal cast of some well-knowns, as well as a few kinda-knowns whose familiarity then skyrocketed (most notably Dax Shepard).
After Parenthood went off the air in January of 2015, NBC wasted no time priming our hearts for what may prove to have even more staying power than Parenthood. We’ve made sport out of scattering This is Us memes and #ThisIsUs hashtags across our social media timelines.
This is Us has us freeing up space in the DVR and then setting it long “just to be sure.” Before this latest episode, my husband and I were out with friends, and one of our friends speculated on how Jack dies. She nailed it regarding going back in to get the dog, but who really could have foreseen the ultimate demise?
If you don’t watch This is Us, I’m not trying to alienate you. I’m just using the show to pull the curtain back on some things that I think reflect upon marriage and intimacy. Click away from this post if you’d like, but there might be some nuggets that will speak to you.
Why are we so captivated by This Is Us?
Top of the list is probably that the show feels relatable. We can see aspects of our own messy lives in their messy lives. Filmed with a flip-floppy format that seamlessly intermingles flashbacks with current day, there is something about the show’s scenarios that feel real.
Now don’t get me wrong. Obviously, it is a show, not real life. Occasionally, the creators are banking on our ability to tap into what’s called suspension of disbelief. The fire scene, for example. Totally unrealistic.
I’ve actually been in a burning house and it’s nothing like that. What really happens in a house fire, though, does not make for good dramatic TV. What makes for good TV is saving the dog, the photo albums, the VHS tape and the necklace. For the love of God, the necklace has its own storyline, so obviously he has to come out of the house with that thing, right?
And what’s with the crock pot, Jack?! You cleaned the entire kitchen! But not the crock pot?! You just turn it off and don’t even unplug it? Hmmm. Like I said, suspension of disbelief. The writers got kind of sloppy on that scene, if you ask me.
Minus those little creative liberties, I think the show is fairly realistic, and that’s why I think we are so captivated by it.
This Is Us has gained such a faithful following because we can identify with the messiness that is portrayed.
Moody teenagers. Financial struggles. Complicated relationships between parents and adult children. Addictions. Career disappointments. Insecurities. Medical crises. Unexpected deaths. Depression. Cumbersome loose ends and regrets. Cavernous grief. Challenging personal relationships.
And true to how real life is, the show also reminds us that even in all the mess, there is joy. Laughter. Tenderness in shared tapestry. Reassurance. I’ve-Got-Your-Back. Healing and hope. Small victories. And a few big ones, too.
The writers have triumphed in giving us not only the fairytale of Jack and Rebecca’s marriage, but more importantly the chaos of it. The passionate vulnerabilities and unspoken knowing, as well as the sadness and miscommunication and distance.
Props to the creators of This is Us for getting that right — for accurately sharing the truth of relationship, particularly marriage. Certainly, we see the dynamics going on between siblings and parents and children, but much of this show is about marriage.
The show refuses to sugar coat marriage’s rough edges… or shy away from its uninhibited desire.
I know we watch TV shows for entertainment (heartwrenching in this case, but entertainment nonetheless).
Even so, I wonder if shows like Parenthood and This Is Us also can compel us to look at dynamics and raw emotions in our own hearts and homes. I wonder if a mere TV show can stir us to not take intimacy for granted, to not leave love unspoken, and to not give up on mending past hurts.
If you are a fan of This Is Us, maybe ponder on these things in your own life the next time you watch.
And for the love of God, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors already.
Copyright 2018, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.