This Is Us, Pilot (2016) – Emotional Drama Connecting Three Stories (Plus THAT Twist)

September 29, 2016 Rissi JC 8 Comments

This Is Us (2016) TV Pilot Review

I’m not much for the “emotional” drama. But once in a while I sit down, hit play and walk in with an open mind. Such was the case with NBC’s latest show.

This is Us

Life is bliss for Rebecca and Jack (Mandy Moore, Milo Vintimiglia). They’re weeks away from welcoming their triplets, and settle into a new house in anticipation of their arrival. But everything changes when Rebecca goes into labor early. 

Life is at a standstill, ending with a question mark for Randall (Sterling K. Brown). When still a baby, Randall is discovered at a fire station. All he knows is his mother died and his father, who he has just found through a PI, abandoned him. Even with a successful career and now, his own family, something is missing.

Siblings Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) are far from living their perfect lives. Kate is an overweight single woman struggling with turning 36 and being so far from where she envisioned her life.
Kevin is a B-actor no longer satisfied with being the “sexy” star of his B-show “The Manny.” As a result he has a meltdown on the set. 

One day connects these people, and one choice leads to a future none of them imagined.

Each trailer for this show intrigues but not enough to rush me into seeing it. The day after its premiere, I downloaded the first episode and put some space between its airing and hitting play. When I finally did, I came away surprised by how well composed the scripting and story was. Tightly compacted into its first hour is the setup of something I can see – surprisingly – working really well as a series. Though judging only by its
pilot, I don’t see it being this good long term.

NBC touts this as a kind of replacement for Parenthood (a show I have never seen). Surmising from what I gather of the show, and what I know of This Is Us, I can see this comparison as legit. The various threads that tie these characters together are interesting. Each one is compelling. What I liked so well about the pilot was its pursuit of genuine emotion over heedless, thoughtless and tiring drama. Sure, as the show furthers, there is bound to be challenges or drama that doesn’t fit, but for the most part… everything comes across as emotionally fulfilling.

This is Us

The performances in particular help sell this. I quickly become swept up in Rebecca and Jack’s love story (despite its history); unique markers configure the relationship between the siblings; and finally Randall’s story is wrought with heart wrenching revelations and promises to be thoroughly rewarding. Everyone had a story to tell, and somehow the pilot felt very complete. As the credits rolled, there was a sense of completeness to everything that I never expected.

If you’re looking for something outside of the over-the-top comedies or the frequent crime dramas, This is Us might be your cup of tea. If however, you want something more linear, then this drama is not your ideal. It will suit, as is true of everything, a specific audience. As nearly every show does, I’ve little doubt the pursuant episode will differ from the pilot, which means I’m leery about continuing on. Do I leave off where I feel happy with what I saw and imagine what I’d like of these characters futures? Or do I continue on and risk disenchantment?

This is the question I am now left to ponder.

(Content: There is a backside female and male nudity. A married couple flirt (he’s naked) and there are various sexual innuendoes. TV14 is the show’s TV rating.)

Photos: NBC

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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8 Comments

  • Meghan M. Gorecki September 30, 2016 at 12:02 am

    I'm already behind on this show because my sister hasn't been home long enough to watch it with me. She made me swear not to watch it without her. *grumbles*
    And um–its Milo/Jess from Gilmore Girls. I'll watch the show till it gets cancelled. LOLOL That's all I know right off and I haven't even watched it yet.

    • Rissi October 3, 2016 at 4:21 am

      Oh noes! Bummer for those promises, right!? :)

      Hope your sis has been home long enough at this point for you two to catch up. What'd you think? I've not watched another episode, but I'd love to know what you think!

      You're Team Jess then!? ;) I have to finish the series and as such am still undecided. Although Dean is pretty much OFF my cool list.

  • Shannon/ It Starts at Midnight September 30, 2016 at 1:57 am

    So I watched this and I really agree with you on a lot of this. It almost felt like it could have been a movie, it felt so complete. I worry about future episodes too, especially after the "big" end- how can subsequent episodes compete? That said, I DID really like it- I was crying like a baby at several parts! I will definitely watch the next episode, and I hope that it CAN continue… but like you said, I am a bit concerned that it won't really have the steam. Fabulous review!

    • Rissi October 3, 2016 at 4:23 am

      Hi, Shannon! Thanks so much for visiting. Always glad to read what you think.

      I'm glad you enjoyed this. I will probably check out subsequent episodes, but yeah, it felt so "full" and as if the ending was appropriate and well rounded. Still, I have hopes it'll have the stamina to continue on, and I saw on Twitter the next episode had another twist? So maybe the writer's will surprise!

      THANK YOU for reading. :)

  • Dawn West September 30, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    That ending really surprised me, too. But I did watch the second episode and I liked it so I'll continue with this series. The ending of the second episode had be yelling at the tv, though. I was like, "No freaking way!" :)

    • Rissi October 3, 2016 at 4:24 am

      That's what I hear too, Dawn! (Episode two has another "twist.") I've not watched any more episodes, but I probably will. For now, I feel satisfied with the story this pilot told. :)

  • Bekah M. October 5, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    I felt a lot like you did, I was in no rush to watch it but it certainly looked cute and feel-good. But wow, did this pilot surprise me with how well it was made! My sisters and mom are actually obsessed with this show. I didn't want to watch the second for fear of it not living up to the pilot, but when I did I thought it was as good as the first. Fingers crossed they keep it up!

    • Rissi October 8, 2016 at 3:56 am

      Good to know, Bekah! I'm not sure I'll keep up with it (for now) for reasons. Some of them being the following:

      + Blindspot (yeah, I'm still on S1 of that one!)
      + Scorpion (season two)
      + Stitchers (season one)
      + Chuck (season three)

      … and probably countless others to say nothing of the 2016 pilots I'm working my way through. All that rambling aside, I AM pleased to know it's holding its own thus far. That's encouraging.

      Three cheers for TV finds that wind up surprising. :)

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