With a trailer that received upwards of 50 million views on Facebook the week it was released (back in May), NBC’s newest dramedy This Is Us was a hit before it even premiered on TV. But in case you’ve been avoiding the internet these past few months, the eagerly anticipated series aired last Tuesday at 9:00 PM Central—and for all of those who missed it, NBC.com has the first episode available to watch for free. So… What are you waiting for?
Even if it doesn’t look like your cup of tea, I highly recommend giving this show a shot. In fact, the team at HSG has been counting down the days until the next one airs (TONIGHT!), so I guess you can say we’re a little bit hooked. Allow me to explain—without giving any spoilers away—why This Is Us should be on everyone’s watch-list this fall:
1. It’s not your typical NBC show. With all of the crime thrillers, medical dramas, and series remakes competing for spots in your DVR, This Is Us stands out as a raw and refreshingly honest take on life, love, and the experiences that connect us. The story revolves around ordinary people, living ordinary lives, but the pilot’s main takeaway is anything but. In some ways, I think this show has more heart than it knows what to do with—and that’s precisely what makes it more engaging than anything else you’ll see on NBC right now. It’s about time the network came out with something other than ER doctors and dramatic love triangles, don’t you think? (Parenthood is the one exception.)
2. Mandy Moore is BACK. And so is the gorgeous Milo Ventimiglia (AKA Jess). I don’t know about you, but the A Walk to Remember/Gilmore Girls obsessed teenager inside of me is completely fangirling at the on-screen chemistry between these two. This is the fictional relationship we’ve all been waiting for.
3. Dan Fogelman, the writer of This Is Us, also brought us Crazy, Stupid, Love and Tangled. Are you sold yet? Now you know the writing is sure to be top-notch, beginning to end.
4. The plot deals with the kind of real issues that most people can relate to. From body image and career crises to broken families and the loss of loved ones, This Is Us touches on real-life issues that I’m betting have somehow affected just about every living person. The writers hit many of these tough subjects head on, too—in such believable ways that, as a viewer, you can’t help but root for each of the main characters as if they’re your best friends. The script wears its heart on its sleeve, shamelessly so, but before you dismiss it as “too serious,” let me assure you:
5. It’s uplifting—without being (overly) cheesy. In just one hour, This Is Us will make you feel the entire spectrum of human emotion, including (but definitely not limited to) joy, wonder, delight, and even pure elation by the end—without the cheesy clichés. (Okay, there may be a few clichés. But they’re only a little bit cheesy.) Plus, it’s genuinely funny. There were several scenes with Metz’s Kate and Hartley’s Kevin (The Manny) that made me and my family laugh out loud. Clever dialogue and solid performances will do that to you.
6. The ending of the first episode blew my mind. I won’t tell you how it ends, because I actually want you to watch the premiere yourself. But to say it will throw you for a loop is an understatement. You won’t be able to resist finding out where the season goes next.
7. There’s already a lot to learn from the characters. One in particular, the 73-year-old doctor (played by Gerald McRaney) that delivers the triplets of main couple Jack (Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Moore), really drove it home for me during his heart-to-heart with Jack at the end of the episode. He shares a very personal story with the new dad and flawlessly turns it into a life lesson that Jack will never forget:
“I like to think that one day you’ll be an old man like me talkin’ a young man’s ear off, explainin’ to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade.”
(I told you there were some clichés. But it works. Just watch it.)
8. The power of human connection is at the very core of This Is Us. Cynics may turn up their noses at the emotional roller coaster that is NBC’s newest fall drama, but the intimate moments and meaningful interactions are what make it worth exploring. At the very least, Fogelman’s writing succeeds in inspiring empathy among its viewers with a heartfelt script that highlights family, forgiveness, and the power of human connection. And if that won’t melt our cold, cynical hearts and help to restore our faith in humanity after last night’s presidential debate, I’m not sure what will. 😉