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This Is Us (NBC)

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Adam Lenhardt, Sep 20, 2016.

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  1. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    Definitely not a criticism. Just an observation that the writers created more work for themselves in order to take those storylines in a potentially richer direction.

    You've never heard of that? It's a pretty common thing, though more of a joke than anything else since the odds of actually having a shot with anybody on your list is pretty much nil. And Sophia Bush's character was a pretty realistic reaction to what would happen if most people in a happy marriage were confronted with the reality instead of the fantasy.
     
  2. Jason_V

    Jason_V Lead Actor

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    I'm way behind on the show, but needed to chime in on this. Being a single guy out in the Pacific Northwest, you'd be SHOCKED what married couples or people in relationships condone and what kinds of agreements they have. I am not judging anyone; whatever works for you, works...it just shocks me every single day. And make it hella hard to date, to be honest.

    So a celebrity hall pass isn't going to even ping my radar when I do catch up on the show.
     
  3. John Lee_275604

    John Lee_275604 Stunt Coordinator

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    Friends had a great bit with the hall pass a generation ago, and Hollywood actually made an entire movie out of the idea about a decade ago.

    It's more of a comedic premise than a reality, but it's not like this was some out-of-the-blue notion.
     
  4. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Kevin's story was not nearly as lengthily painful as Randall's, but the angst was still there in less severe ways, and I did enjoy the story. I did want to meet Grant, but it seems like perhaps Sophie is not going to be the final answer for Kevin after all as I suspected she might be.

    I enjoyed the running love tokens between them: the doughnuts and Good Will Hunting potential endings. And the ring story resonated with me, too.
     
  5. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    Last night's episode was Definitely less dramatic than last week's episode but I really enjoyed it. Sophie's always had a weakness for Kevin, always allowed him to blow up her life when it suited him.

    Part of him flew out to Pittsburgh to blow up her life again. It's a sign of his growth that when their outing reached its natural conclusion and she started to pull away, Kevin let her. For once, he put what she needed ahead of what he needed.

    Just as I predicted that Sophie wouldn't be the woman he'd slept with, I'm not convinced that Madison is Kevin's baby mama.

    Structurally, I like how the storylines intertwine in all three time periods.

    I have a feeling that next weekend's episode with Kate is going to be a doozy.
     
  6. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    And directed by Justin Hartley!
     
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  7. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    This is what pisses me off about TV shows these days. Show 2/3 of a three parter, then take a three week hiatus. No wonder I’ve been waiting for most or all of a season to air, then watch on Hulu.

    apparently the next episode isn’t until 2/18.
     
  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    OK, apparently the third part is in two weeks, titled “Mom”.
     
  9. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    BTW, Kevin’s wife/baby mama is over a month pregnant in the present time, if I have the timeline right, which means it’s
    Cassidy
    I would be all for that. She deserves a new start, and she’d be very good for Kevin.

    The encounter in the latest episode is a red herring.
     
  10. Message #290 of 309 Feb 6, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
    NeilO

    NeilO Producer

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    We finally caught up.

    From the previous episode I thought Kevin and Sophie were going to be back together. Even the little they did this past episode might be giving her second thoughts about her engagement. They do work well with each other, but friendship might be all they will really have. Guess we will have to wait and see.

    I was disappointed that Randall turned around in his office without giving anyone any explanation at all.

    Meanwhile, we have Jennifer Morrison and Omar Epps in this season so far. I wonder if we will get anymore actors from House this season.
     
  11. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    Kate's episode was the weakest of the "trilogy" but there was still a lot to admire about it.

    I continue to be impressed by the complexity of how the nonlinear storytelling is used in these episodes: three episodes that intertwine with one another in all three time periods, and this episode also has two thematic arcs in the present, which echo into the past.

    Kate has had self-esteem issues her entire life. Those self-esteem issues have strained her relationship with her mother, and shaped her relationships with men.

    There are a lot of differences between her teenage relationship with Marc and her adult relationship with Toby. First and foremost, Toby is much better person than Marc. Marc is an immature and toxic person, who spews his anger at anybody in his vicinity.

    But the contrast that the episode focuses on is the difference between teenage Kate and adult Kate. Teenage Kate puts up with Marc's abusive behavior because she doesn't think she can do any better. She lies to her family about Marc and papers over the problems. Adult Kate is honest about her problems and speaks up for what she needs.

    I was particularly impressed with the fight between Kate and Toby near the end of the episode. Fights on TV tend to be screaming matches, but Toby and Kate are adults and they behave like adults. They speak honestly to each other, not to wound but to make the other understand. Kate doesn't cast blame toward Toby; she just explains that she needs more from him than he has been giving. And Toby, for his part, hears her and accepts what she is saying. The idea of spending the weekend alone with Jack is terrifying to him. It means confronting the loss of the son he thought he was going to have, and letting go of his denial about the reality of Jack's vision loss. Kate is not entirely comfortable with leaving Jack alone with Toby, given Toby's state of mind. But Toby tells her that he needs to spend time with their son, and Kate hears him and accepts what he is saying.

    The contrast between Kate and Marc, where Kate is doing all of the heavy lifting while Marc just demands more and more, and Kate and Toby, where both partners are trying hard to bridge the gap between them, is really powerful.

    The other thematic arc involves Kate and Rebecca. Their relationship has been a really slow burn over the course of the three seasons. The warmth and trust between them in this episode has been really earned over a long period. I was so happy that Rebecca was open about her diagnosis with Kate. It was unfair of her to put that on Randall alone, and all of her kids have a right to know.

    One thing that I thought was really interesting about this episode is that while Rebecca's diagnosis contributed to Randall's anxiety spiral, it actually brought Kate and Rebecca closer together. I think a big reason for that is that it makes Rebecca vulnerable in a way that Kate, due to her weight, has always felt vulnerable. In the teenage storyline, Rebecca tells Kate that she understands, and Kate tells her quite adamantly that she doesn't. But at the retreat for families of visually impaired children, Rebecca is in exactly the right place to help Kate. Kate comes into that trip feeling like her marriage is doomed. Rebecca has just been told that her life as she knows it is very likely doomed. And rather than become depressed by it, she has chosen to feel liberated by it. Kate, whether she knows it or not, feeds off of Rebecca's energy.

    The pool scene is so well-written and directed. It's probably the first time in the show that Rebecca has been there for Kate like Jack used to be there for Kate. Rebecca is just about to come clean about her diagnosis, but when Kate comes clean about what she's dealing with, Rebecca immediately puts her diagnosis on the backburner without hesitation or resentment. And unlike in the past, when she'd feed Kate pleasant platitudes that rang immediately false to Kate, this time what she has to say is very frank and straight-forward. Kate needs to tell Toby what she needs from him, and if Toby can't step up to the plate Kate is strong enough to raise Jack without him. But Rebecca genuinely doesn't think it will come to that. And then, once they've hashed out Kate's problems, Rebecca doesn't avoid the conversation about her diagnosis. She delivers the news in a way that is attentive to what her daughter needs from her. And Kate, seeing her mother vulnerable in a way she hadn't previously, is able to set aside her own hangups to give her mother a wonderful night while Rebecca is still in a position to appreciate it.
     
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  12. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I agree with your analysis and that it was the weakest of the Big Three stories. But Rebecca/Mandy Moore was a champ throughout this episode. Very impressed with both Milo but especially Mandy in being able to bridge these enormous gaps of time so convincingly.
     
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  13. Message #293 of 309 Feb 14, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
    JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Wow, that's quite an effective and extensive interpretation. You are really into this show. I seem to recall there was one other time Rebecca really came through for Kate, but holy smokes, the way she usually deals with Kate reminds me of the saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." I'm sure I'm not the only one here who feels that, deep down, Rebecca is a little horrified of Kate as her daughter, and she just doesn't know how to deal with it. Even the nickname "Bug" has a bit of an edge to it.

    BTW, to touch back on the identity of Kevin's wife/baby mama, we've met Kevin's son, and it clearly can't be Zoe, so I remain with the individual I indicated before. I stand firm on my belief that Sophie is a red herring.
     
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  14. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Oh yeah, regarding the "Hall Pass" I also agree that it worked and was not absurd or lazy writing. It was pretty clear that woman didn't have any expectation for it to go anywhere, but when it started playing out the way it did, the dynamic changed.
     
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  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    OK, so it doesn't appear Randall's keeping their mom's condition a secret from Kevin is what is going to drive them apart. Can't imagine what it's going to be.
     
  16. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I also wanted to add that the tape recording at the end of the show had the tears flowing. This Is Us has that uncanny way of doing that better than just about any other show.
     
  17. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    This season has done a much better job than last season of keeping the scale small and realistic.

    Marc was the kind of horrible that is unfortunately all too common, and the fallout wasn't a sensationalized scene for the TV promos. They got to the truth of what happened, and then they kicked Marc to the curb and let Kate know that she was loved and deserved better.

    This episode did a great job of capturing the wonderful bonds of the Pearson family: Rebecca supporting Jack, Kevin and Randall supporting Kate, Jack expressing his appreciation for Rebecca, Kevin honoring his father by building his father's dream house.

    Speaking of that last point: Now we know where Kevin lives and why. Thus far, in the flash forward, Kate remains conspicuously absent. Are her and Toby divorced, and she just hasn't entered the picture yet? Or did Toby and Kate patch things up and Kate passed away sometime between the present day and the flash forward? That Kevin lives in Pennsylvania argues in favor of Cassidy being the baby mama, but it doesn't really rule any of the other plausible contenders out.

    I had the same exact thought. If Kevin was able to get past the betrayal of being kept out of the loop about Rebecca's diagnosis after a couple hours, whatever fractured their relationship has to be really horrible.

    What a gift to hear something new from a loved one long since departed.

    My paternal grandfather passed away long before I was born, and my grandmother dated the same man for the majority of my childhood. For a school project in elementary school, we had to record oral histories of someone we knew, and I recorded an interview with him about his experiences in the Great Depression and serving in the China-Burma-India theater of World War II.

    His son lives in North Carolina, and he lived in upstate New York with my grandmother, so his grandchildren didn't see much of him for the first decade or so of their lives; he didn't move down South to live with them until my grandmother passed away.

    Years later, I found the cassette tape in my parents' basement, and used an audio cable to connect the headphone jack of my parents' old stereo into the microphone jack of my computer and digitized the audio as a WAV file. Every year on his birthday, I post a short snippet with a different anecdote that he shared during the interview and post it on his grandson's Facebook wall. I've got enough left for maybe three or four more years
     
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  18. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Another great showcase for Mandy Moore playing Rebecca in all these different timelines, always to superb and believable effect.

    The previews also hinted at the trouble brewing between Kevin and Randall over Randall's assertion on his primary importance in keeping the family together (also mentioned during his therapy session this week).

    The business with Toby's music room for Kate and Jack was really touching, and then when we saw the effects it had on Jack through the years was really heart-melting.

    They sure seem to be implying that Madison is going to be Kevin's baby mama, but maybe it's a red herring.
     
  19. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    Yes, it amazes me how she adjusts her body language, adjusts her manner of speech, in really subtle ways to play the difference between young Rebecca and old Rebecca. She even sings differently; still beautiful, but less powerful and with a more constrained range.

    One thing that this episode did so well with the therapy sessions is capture how Randall's unhealthy behaviors that contribute to his stress and anxiety are driven by his feeling that they are necessary to keep his family going. Part of that is inherent in his personality, and party of that resulted from the ways that Rebecca leaned on Randall after Jack passed away. He was more mature than Kate and Kevin back then, and he was accordingly entrusted with more mature responsibility. But he can't accept that Kate and Kevin and more mature than they were back then, because that would mean ceding some of his role within the family dynamic.

    Randall's therapist was absolutely right to challenge those assumptions, even though she knew he wouldn't take it well. Speaking of Randall's therapist: I thought it was really well done how she was only shot from behind like an interrogator when Randall was resistant to engaging with the process. But then, at the end, when he comes in for his second session with a completely different attitude, we see her from the front and we see the open body language. Pamela Adlon was also great casting in that role; she is an actress that exudes warmth but also has sharp edges.

    I really like the way their storyline is being used to show how a marriage between two mature adults works through issues. I don't know if Toby and Kate will be together for the long haul, but I do know that both of them are making the effort, and the montage through the years made it clear that that effort paid dividends for their son.

    Until we see the birth, I don't think I'll be convinced by any of the candidates.
     
  20. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I’ll just add that I also really liked how the counseling sessions were handled. I watch on Hulu, so haven’t seen today’s episode yet.
     

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