Bear with us Brits, it’s about to get soppy. And we’re talking full on, sniffly nose, cry into the dog’s ears kind of soppy. So, loosen that stiff upper lip, let down that guard and embrace This is Us.
After some sickly sweet quote about each of us sharing our birthday with 18 million others – we haven’t fact checked this, and it’s likely #fakenews – this series opens to a group of characters who are all celebrating their 36th birthday. And as well as sharing the same birthday, they all seem to be at pivotal moments in their lives; Jack is about to become a first-time dad to triplets with his wife Rebecca; Kevin is an actor fed up with his below-average sitcom; Randall is a broker seeking out his birth father; Kate is seeking help for her eating problem by reaching out to a support group.
But, spoiler alert: they’re all linked. Reminiscent of the 2011 film Crazy, Stupid, Love, somehow all these plotlines will find way to link to each other, and it seems they’re after using our heartstrings to make up the chains.
Because it’s straight into heartbreak, with calamity and plot twists galore, each episode playing host to another round of tear-jerker tragedies as we hop from past to present on a never-ending rollercoaster of emotions.
And people love it. Even though it’s so saccharine and so blatantly exploiting our human capacity for empathy, people can’t get enough. That could be down to the fact that when it isn’t causing us to blubber like babies, it’s brilliantly light and wonderfully funny, and the cast is also cracking. It may be worth noting, too, that the first season couldn’t have come at a better time. It was 2017 America – divided and with disagreements everywhere. What better tonic than an hour a week of sickly sweet emotional release?
But we do admit, This (show isn’t very) Us. Nor is it The Telegraph’s Jonathan Bernstein, who reckons “Brits will never embrace America’s weepie TV obsession.” But some have, at least according to The Guardian’s Tim Dowling, who says some people want “a headlong escape into a warm, safe space; an emotional wringing out.” Though he admits, “even by the standards of the genre, This Is Us is strong medicine.” James Poniewozik in The New York Times says watching it is “like getting beaten up with a pillow soaked in tears,” yet still says “it has enough engaging moments for me to want to see if the series can master the difference between a good cry and an easy one.”
First shown September 2016. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.