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NBC airs brilliant new show ‘This Is Us’

Charming characters, captivating storylines and a major plot twist are sure to leave viewers hooked

Alexa Rockwell, Contributor

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As the fall brings new television pilots, NBC’s “This is Us” stands strongly among them as a must-see.

Though the whole episode is entertaining, the last ten minutes will leave you surprised, happy and impressed. “This Is Us” is well-thought-out and brilliantly executed.

If you appreciate a good plot twist, add “This Is Us” to your fall watch list. 

On Tuesday, September 20, the pilot episode premiered. In a time where appointment viewing is rare, this show may be a great exception.

The show attracted curiosity and intrigue among viewers before it aired. The trailer, which came out in May, quickly went viral on Facebook. It now has over 65 million views. Ten million viewers tuned into the pilot itself.

The trailer gives a gist of what the show will be about — four people who are turning 36 on the same day and their unique stories — but it doesn’t even hint at a groundbreaking twist.

The pilot episode begins with respective introductions of the four main stories. There’s Jack, with his wife Rebecca who is going into labor; Randall, who is on a quest to find his father who abandoned him at a fire station when he was born; Kate, who feels her quality of life is diminished by her struggle with her obesity; and Kevin, who is tired of not being taken seriously as an actor.

In one of the first scenes, Kate injures herself falling off a scale and calls her brother to come help. When Kevin shows up, it is revealed the two are siblings. At that point, it seems there are no connections among the other characters. 

Kate joins a weight loss support group and meets Toby, her witty new “fat friend,” as he says. Kate and Toby are lovable characters with an honest story. They portray the sad truth that appearances can restrict many other aspects of our lives in this society.

As for Kate’s brother Kevin, his frustration with his acting career stems from being constrained by looks. Tired of being cast in light, eye candy-type roles, he erupts into a raging meltdown on set that leads to a tough moral decision of selling out or keeping his dignity.

While Rebecca is in labor with triplets, she loses one of the babies. The scene that follows is sad and heartwarming, as the doctor tells Rebecca’s husband Jack about his own experience losing a child. Jack advises Rebecca to “take the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turn it into something resembling lemonade.”

At the hospital, Jack is standing at the viewing window to see his son and daughter when a fireman asks which baby is his. Jack points to his son and daughter, then asks the fireman which one his is.

“None, actually,” the fireman said. “Craziest thing, someone left a baby at my station so I brought him here. There he is.”

The camera then zooms out. Next to Jack’s son and daughter is a little black boy. The fireman casually lights a cigarette in the middle of the hospital and offers one to Jack.

At this moment, everything becomes confusing before it all comes together. The show cuts to a scene of Kate and Kevin on the couch saying, “Remember what Dad always said? ‘Take the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turn it into something resembling lemonade.’”

Is it just a coincidence, or is there a connection between Jack, the doctor, Kate and Kevin?

 

Spoiler alert
The show cuts back to Jack’s scene, and the camera zooms out to show the hospital. Is it clear Jack’s story is set in the 1980s — from the outdated outfits that the doctors and nurses are wearing, to the ancient television in the waiting room. When the scene jumps back to Kate and Kevin on the couch, the camera zooms just over Kate’s shoulder to reveal a family photo of all three children – Kate, Kevin and Randall, the man on a quest to find his father.

This show has intriguing, likable characters who face real issues. “This is Us” is smart in its unveiling of plot points. It plays on our human instinct to assume. The show puts the pieces out for the viewer to put together on their own.

To watch the episodes you missed, visit NBC or Hulu.

Email Alexa at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @alexarock23.

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The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department
NBC airs brilliant new show ‘This Is Us’