Over in the "TV Shows I Am Binging" thread, I noted that I got hooked on This Is Us, which led to a quick discussion over the show's merits and a pledge to talk about the latest episode. We threw out the idea of having that conversation in the "What Are You Watching Right Now?" thread, but I decided to start one dedicated to the show. Although I titled it "Season 4," I'm not going to limit my observations to that season alone,
So far, it's just been me and Jeff, but I welcome anyone else to join in -- especially Tracy! We've seen too little of you here in the Comics Cave!
Going back to the previous episode, which focused on Kevin and Madison, he's been staying in her garage so he can be close to their kids. Which made me wonder, and not for the first time: Just how much money does Kevin have?
It also made me wonder what happened to the trailer he had when he was camping out next to Nicky's raggedy old trailer.
It also made me wonder about his status as an actor. Certainly, doing a dumb sitcom like The Man-ny isn't a sterling achievement on any actor's resume, but he moved up a notch or two with the play The Back of an Egg, and must have solidified at least B-list status with the Ron Howard movie.
Of course, he then blew it with the indie film, and walking out didn't help, since it cemented him as being a "difficult" actor who walks out projects. But I find it almost as frustrating as Kevin does that he supposedly doesn't have any better prospects than doing a revival of The Man-ny. If that's the case, he needs a new agent.
If I was one, I'd try to position him for things like ensemble dramas or TV miniseries, or ensemble movies like Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve, not lame sitcoms. Of course, one reason Kevin is taking seriously the notion of doing The Man-ny is that it's a job with (somewhat) regular hours and doesn't require traveling, which appeals since he wants to be close to his kids. If he wants that, he should go for things like The Rookie. Or something acting-adjacent, like the way Mario Lopez hosts Access Hollywood or, say, being a voice actor.
But to present things as "do The Man-ny" or "do Hallmark movies in Toronto" is an utterly false choice.
This Is Us is a very manipulative show. It's always very obvious when we viewers are being manipulated, but I generally don't mind. For example, Toby is a character I generally like. in last week's episode, however, he purposefully went against Kate's advice and disrupted Jack's nap schedule. Not the end of the world, but I came away thinking nothing short of the death penalty would be an appropriate punishment.
Kate wouldn't (and hasn't) cut Toby some slack for that mistake (but we've already established she's a horrible person), but I do. Toby spends half the week away from his kids; I can understand not wanting to spend the limited time he has at home with the boy asleep for most of it.
That said, the babysitter was really useless, wasn't she?
Speaking of fathers making mistakes, there's Randall. Yes, he and Beth were rightly furious as the subterfuge Déjà pulled to go see Malik. Yes, Déjà ought to be punished for it. But Randall took it too far with a declaration that she won't be seeking Malik any more (well, anytime soon).
Randall's mistake here -- and he admitted it in his conversation with Déjà -- is that he wants to think of her as Daddy's Little Girl. Déjà has has a rough childhood, has bounced around in foster care and was even living in a car with her mother. Déjà may be his daughter, but she has not and never has been his Little Girl, and he needs to get that thought completely out of his mind.
And I hope he doesn't make the mistake of turning this into a tug of war where he punishes her for being defiant. She's lived without the Pearsons before; she's not afraid of living without them again.
"That said, the babysitter was really useless, wasn't she?"
That's what I mean by "manipulative." As soon as Toby agrees to stay home the babysitter completely drops her "brave front" reinforcing the "worst thing in the world" scenario. and I get that Toby wants to spend time with his kids while they're awake once in a while, but I'm pretty much on Kate's side on this one (even without the manipulation). Besides, we all know where this is heading, anyway.
Regarding Randall, I cut him more slack than I do Toby because Randall was reacting purely from emotion. I liked the way he and Beth rationally decided who was going to play "good cop" and who was going to be "bad cop." Under the circumstances, Beth (the rational "good cop") made the best decision. But again, I think in order for her decision to be perceived by the audience as so good, Randall's had to be equally bad. I don't mind it, but it's kind of obvious.
Oh, I agree that Kate was right, here; I just understand why Toby did the wrong thing. But this again illustrates a fundamental problem in their relationship, one Madison put her finger on a while back: Toby can't say what he thinks without being punished for it. (To wit: "I wanted to be with my kid without him being asleep the whole time.")
Then again, it was Toby's dumb idea to take a job in San Francisco and try to commute from Los Angeles. Commuting within Los Angeles is hard enough; commuting to another city when there are two babies in the house, one with special needs, is inviting disaster.
I found last night's episode to be interesting structurally in that we (the audience) were being introduced to Jack's mother for the first time (to all intents and purposes) at the same time he was, essentially.
Tracy lost her mom last year so this was a hard one for her.
I felt sorry for the cat.
We have a longtime family friend who, I learned many years later, lives where she does because she escaped an abusive husband. She hasn't been back, although she has a sister there. I didn't quite understand why she doesn't venture there; to my naïve mind, she's old, so he must also be old. But ultimately, I really don't understand it because it's a situation I've never had to face. Seeing last night's episode made me understand a little better.
This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman was at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, says Variety, and when asked if he could see clear to getting the cast together at some indefinite future after the show wraps in May, said he wouldn't rule it out. Then, just spitballing, he floated the notion of a movie about how the family saga would unfold if Jack didn't die from the fire.
Not long after, Fogelman told the audience, "The president of NBC is literally texting me right now: ‘Yes to the movie.'”
This late in the game and they're still introducing new characters.
I thought Kate had a pretty good showing this episode.
Watching Kate & Toby's marriage dissolve is like a slow motion car wreck.
Kevin really should take the hint and move out of their place (not that it will do any good).
I liked Madison's boyfriend for perhaps the first time.
I wish they would have introduced Rebecca and Miquel's romance sooner in the series.
(No, I don't.)
Wasn't into Beth's story this episode until the very end.
I didn't get to watch the latest episode when it aired, so I'm just catching up. Some thoughts:
I was traveling last week so I am behind; I watched last week's episode while recording last night's episode. I'll catch up by next week; there was a promo that going forward the remaining 11 (now 10) episodes will run each week without interruption.
So, let's get down to cases, shall we?