This is us – The sweetest embrace of them all

The problem with television today is that there is too much good stuff and deciding what to watch can be a daunting task while still putting together a productive life.  The one constant over the past few years is that it was rarely the old network TV that would put out a show that was must watch TV.

That changed this past season when NBC unveiled “This is us”, one of the best character driven drama’s I’ve seen on the old network TV in a many a year. Many times TV is simply an entertainment device, but on rare occasions,  it is a teaching device. This is us, is a teaching device. I wish the show had existed when I was eight. or ten. or twelve.

This past episode, the final scene left me wondering if I’d seen a sweeter embrace on TV in my lifetime. The way the writers built up to this scene from the first episode was a work of art.

I’m one of those viewers who will find many a hole in just about any script, but this season, this script, this embrace, it was as touching as it can be. Many times you feel manipulated into tears, but this didn’t feel manipulative, it felt real.

It all starts with the Dad being one of the greatest real person fathers in television. He’s someone we should all know, all his weaknesses all his strengths.  The egocentric son who has all the emotional failings of an artist. The type A son who succeeds in everything he tries because he puts everything into it. The sibling rivalry, the jealousy of the artist toward the Type A, the Type A who only wants his brother to love him as a brother. The complexity of the sibling relationship raised as multi-racial triplets is layered and I won’t be able to do it justice here.

When the cracks start to show in Randall,  I never felt the writers would go the way they went but the last two scenes left me in tears. The jealous brother as a child looking at his perfect brother who is showing emotional cracks and could use a brotherly show of affection, but Kevin simply isn’t emotionally mature enough to deliver that hug at that stage of his life. He knew what he should do, he simply didn’t do it.

Most of us have been there. We can look back at our childhood and pinpoint so many times we made the wrong emotional decision because we lacked the growth that life gives us. It is often with remorse that I think of those bad decisions and the pain I might have caused others simply because I was emotionally ignorant.  To have a do-over. Yes, please.

Kevin looks to his dead father for guidance as he is about to embark on a big night for his career. When Randall makes a call for help without actually asking for help, it seems that Kevin doesn’t get the clue. The setup was excellent, about to step on stage, Kevin thinks once again about what his father would do, and this time it wasn’t about what his father would do as an actor to help him kill it on stage, it was about what his father would do for his family. This only works if you have created a father like Jack who tries to do the right thing time after time because it is the right thing to.  All of those life lessons weren’t lost, and Kevin leaves his make-believe stage for the real stage and sets off to find his flailing brother.

The final scene could have played out any number of ways, but the simple embrace of his brother said all that needed to be said. Kevin got his do-over with Randall.

And the writers hit a home run with me.


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