With literally millions of views on just the trailer, you could say people were excited for the series premiere of This Is Us. And so when it aired, people were wondering if it lived up to the hype. Well, spoiler alert: it did. It was funny. It had heart. And it found a way to be relatable, even if you couldn’t really relate to some of the storylines. How? Incredible storytelling and actors that brought these characters to life. They made them feel real. So without very ado, let’s get to know ’em
This is: Jack and Rebecca
Their relationship can be summed up easily: #RelationshipGoals. And it was established within the first 5 minutes of the pilot. It all started with Jack in his birthday suit…literally. Because it was his birthday. And he was naked. Great opening scene. Anyway, we see him sitting with his tush on the bed, and a terrible towel covering his NSF-NBC parts, when in walks his wife Rebecca, so pregnant she’s about to burst, wearing lingerie. On top of her clothes. It’s adorable to watch and extremely telling of the type of relationship they have. Even though their circumstances have changed, they’re sticking with tradition. Although to be fair, I think most of us would stick to tradition if it involved fooling around with Milo Ventimiglia or Mandy Moore, but that’s besides the point. Just as things are getting started, Rebecca’s water breaks and the two head to the hospital.
Because this is a show that is designed to pull at your heartstrings, naturally something has to go wrong. In this case, it’s that their doctor had his own medical emergency and won’t be able to deliver the triplets. Rebecca understandably freaks out, but her new doctor assures her he is good at what he does. He’s so good at his job that he ultimately tries to have the discussion of what will need to happen if things go wrong, when Jack steps in and basically says, “nah.” There will be none of that kind of talk because only good things are happening today. It is his 36th birthday after all. Rebecca mouths that she loves him, and even the doctor is all like, “Yup. Relationship goals.”
This is: Kate
Okay, so you know how when you were in college, Drunk You would write Sober You notes or reminders? That is essentially how we meet Kate. Except it’s Hungry Kate writing notes to Trying To Lose Weight Kate. I’d like to go on record and say that I like both versions of Kate, because 1) Welcome to being a female. And 2) Watching her give stank eyes to letters she wrote was pretty damn entertaining.
With all that said, I’ll admit that at the beginning of the episode, I was a little “meh” about the amount of focus the writers and show were putting on her weight. It is just a number as they say. But as the episode progressed, we saw a shift happen. Somewhere along the way we watched as her weight stopped being used as her “crutch” and morph into something that created an opportunity. It was through her desire to lose weight that she ultimately found something better: an adorable new love interest. See, who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too? Or in Kate’s case, have your cake with a post it reminder not to eat it. Either way they are cute.
This is : Kevin
After meeting Kate, it’s only natural that we meet her twin, Kevin. Kevin is the one character I had the hardest time empathizing with during this entire episode. The main reason? Almost everything he was dealing with could easily be categorized as #PrettyPeopleProblems. But as the show progressed I realized that that is probably what the writers were trying to do. What better way to remind us that no one is perfect, than to take Justin Hartley, who lets be honest, is basically perfect, and remind us that he has insecurities too. In the show, Kevin is the star of a show called The Man-ny. Which is essentially a Freeform-esque sitcom that finds Kevin being the male nanny to a baby, saying ridiculous lines and always in search of a shirt. Audience members, in the show, and IRL like myself, applaud this storyline wholeheartedly, but that’s the point. Kevin realizes he’s being cast as just another “pretty face” and wants more out of his career and his life. After finally getting a chance to show what he’s capable of —and nailing it — his note is to do it again. This time with an alternative funny line and… without the shirt. It’s enough to cause him to flip out, quit, and drunkenly cock block Kate on her date. But her date gets a selfie out of it and because it’s 2016, it’s all good.
This is: Randall
Lastly, we meet Randall. He’s a successful business man, but one who clearly puts his family first. We know this because we see him adorably watching his two daughters play soccer. One decided she is just not about this whole soccer life and spends the game braiding her BFFs hair (do you, little one) and the other is literally knocking little kids OUT to score a goal (you do you, too). Randall cheers for them both equally, and you find yourself thinking, “Wow. This guy is a great dad” and then it becomes clear why. We learn that his father dropped him off at a fire station when he abandoned him as a child. So Randall’s spent his entire life trying to prove that he didn’t need his dad anyway. Except for that, maybe he does.
Randall’s dad may have left him, but the questions about his father never left Randall. And he finally has the opportunity to meet him. After hiring a PI to track him down, he gets the address and shows up at his doorstep, and is basically like, “Look at how badly you fucked up.” And then his dad invites him in. Not your normal meet and greet, but we’ll take it.
We learn that his father barely remembers dropping him at the station, and even though Randall wants to, and does tell him, “Screw you” he invites him to meet his grandkids. The gesture goes farther than even Randall probably thought it would, because we soon learn that his father is dying. It’s such a crazy thought. To go your whole life accepting the fact that your father isn’t around, to then find him and learn..he’s not going to be around, forever. What this means for their relationship is yet to be seen, but the chance to see the I-won-an-Emmy Sterling K. Brown figure it out is more than okay in my book.
This is: The twist:
The twist brings us back to the hospital. We learn that after some complications, Rebecca made it through labor, and her and Jack will be able to bring home two healthy babies. Unfortunately, the third baby didn’t make it. We learn this during an incredible scene from Milo Ventigmilia who was basically like, “I know y’all loved me as Jess, but I want you to love Jack more” as he tried to process this news. Helping him through, was the doctor who gave him, and let’s be real, all of us, a motto we should use. When faced with a tough situation, you want to be able to say, “how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade.”I‘ll let you guys figure out what it means to you, but for Jack it was basically a challenge to “walk out o the hospital with three babies” even if he can’t do it physically.
It’s with this news that Jack goes to meet his two new kids and begins casually chatting with a fireman. “Which ones yours?” Jack eventually asks him, and the guy tells him none of ’em. The baby was left outside a fire station and he didn’t know what else to do. So then you watch Milo stare at the baby, a third baby, and that’s when things start to click into place for him… and let’s face it, for us.
Eventually we see a The Man-ny poster on Randall’s daughter’s wall that’s addressed to his favorite nieces. We see Kate consoling her now jobless brother with advice to “take a sour lemon and make something like lemonade” and finally we see a photo on Kate’s coffee table that shows her, her brother, and their adopted brother. A man, who a young couple decided to adopt after being left outside a fire station so long ago. We see Randall. And that’s when you realize that the couple you have been falling in love with all episode, ended up being the parents to three wonderful kids in the end. That these people, seemingly just connected by a birthday, are actually a family.
It was a twist so perfectly unexpected, and one that has me intrigued for the rest of the season. How does it play out as the episodes progress? How deep do these connections go?