I Tried To Get On Board With This Is Us — & I Just Can’t

I Tried To Get On Board With This Is Us — & I Just Can’t
I Tried To Get On Board With This Is Us — & I Just Can’t
The characters are...hyper self-aware droids who speak every feeling they have aloud in the service of revealing emotionally “shocking” plot points.
See above.

The acting is…from the school of cry-face emoji.
Look, I loved Mandy Moore in Saved. Sterling K. Brown was brilliant in The People v. O.J. Chrissy Metz is a treasure. And Milo’s mustache actually goes a long way, as does his constant shirtlessness. But one can hardly argue this is any of their best work.

Moore in particular has been praised for her portrayal of Rebecca across decades of her character’s life. Still, I would posit that more credit is due to the show’s wig and makeup departments than to Moore’s range as an actress. Just a hunch.

The music is…like life on Earth has been extinguished and John Mayer is the sole survivor.
And he’s going to croon about it, even if no one is listening.

The plot is...emotionally manipulative, as a rule.
We could start with the old “baby left on the firehouse doorstep” move, or the classic, “What happened to Toby?!” midseason cliffhanger. But let’s talk about Jack’s death. When elder Rebecca shows up at the door without him, viewers thought maybe they had just broken up. It took another episode for Kevin to casually let it drop that their dad is dead. Each of these moments is specifically calculated to elicit gasps and tears from viewers — and the headline equivalent of “squeeeee” from entertainment media.

We’ve been promised the show is playing the long game, and that some details won’t be revealed for...seasons to come. Something tells me their long game won’t be anywhere near as artfully crafted or brilliantly considered as, say, Breaking Bad’s. No, they just want viewers to be glued to their screens for as many years as the series can ride the audience tide and crank out 18 episodes a season. There's no shame in that, but let’s not pretend the payoff will be worth it. Because...

The producers are...trolling viewers.
Every week it seems creator Dan Fogelman is out giving an exclusive interview teasing a “big reveal” in this week’s episode, all the time promising that more and more surprises lay beyond the horizon for the Pearsons.

It is, of course, the job of any creator to promote their series — but if every twist must be teased like so many breadcrumbs in the grass, aren’t we the dogs crawling around and lapping them up, begging for a treat in the form of some more cathartic sobbing? If I needed a good cry, I could face the calamity of my personal Gmail box, or read the latest spate of headlines from Washington.

I get it, maybe that’s why people watch This Is Us. In times like these, who are we to say how people choose to escape? I, for one, will be waiting patiently for The Americans to return in March — call me crazy, but a Cold War drama feels like just what the doctor ordered.

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