A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that This Is Us focuses on the lives of adults who are grappling with decidedly adult problems, from weight and body image issues to reuniting with estranged parents who abandoned them. You'll hear characters use words such as "fat ass," "suck," "bull dyke," "crap," "damn," and "screw you," and you'll see some kissing, along with bare male chests and buttocks. There's social drinking, too, occasionally to drunkenness, and some secondary characters smoke cigarettes.
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What's the story?
THIS IS US links the lives of three characters who, at least on the surface, couldn't be any more different -- except that they all happen to share the same birthday. Kate (Chrissy Metz) is a single girl locked in a lifelong battle with her own body. Kevin (Justin Hartley) is a successful sitcom star who longs to be taken seriously. And Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is a devoted dad who's determined to find the father who abandoned him. Meanwhile, expectant couple Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) are poised to become parents for the first time. Turns out, all these characters are part of the same close family. They deal with love, loss, illness, and both joyous and tragic moments, while the viewers get to see how the past affects the present, and how this caring family unit grows and changes over a period of nearly 35 years.
Is it any good?
In addition to compelling characters that defy stereotypes, this fresh take on family drama delivers a surprise twist that will likely hook you. Its unique pilot sets up the show's interesting premise (spoiler alert): it takes place in two timelines. The Pearson family is shown in both the '80s and the present day, and it's fascinating to watch how the past affects the present for each character. In less capable hands, the twists, turns, and family drama might seem melodramatic, but as it is, each reveal is more moving than the last and often will elicit a storm of tears. Families with teens who can handle complex emotional issues will enjoy watching (and crying!) together as the Pearsons figure out how to keep it together over the years.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about This Is Us's central theme of "taking the sourest lemons that life has to offer and turning it into something that resembles lemonade." How are the characters attempting to apply that mantra to their lives? Is it possible to put a positive spin on every problem?
To what degree does This Is Us push the envelope in terms of casting and character development? Why is popular media that defies commonly held stereotypes so important?
How does This Is Us compare to other shows about family relationships and human connection? Is it making an obvious attempt to be different, and does it work?
- Premiere date: September 20, 2016
- Cast: Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown
- Network: NBC
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Communication, Courage, Gratitude
- TV rating: TV-14
- Available on: Streaming
- Awards: Emmy, Golden Globe
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