This post contains affiliate links. If you make any purchase at Amazon after clicking one of my links, I receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting our family!
You guys. You guys.
Can we talk about This Is Us for a minute? David and I watch it together (well, ever since the first episode which I watched alone and then forced him to watch while I watched his reaction to The Big Time Warp Reveal).
I could do a Seven Quick Takes about things I love about This Is Us. I could do a Seven Quick Takes about how This Is Us just gets me. I could do a Seven Quick Takes about why This Is Us is so different from other shows.
Mostly, I just want to talk to someone about This Is Us. Can you have a book club about a TV show? Because that’s pretty much what I want. If you are watching This Is Us this season, you’re invited to the (online? type-it-out?) bookless club.
(If you haven’t seen This Is Us, I’m sorry. First of all, I’m sorry because you are definitely missing out. Like being sorry for people who haven’t ever had cheesecake. But I’m also sorry because I know what it’s like to feel left out of TV discussions. I’ve never seen any of The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones or Grey’s Anatomy. But we under-TV-ed are a hearty bunch, and we know how to nod along and laugh politely when people make inside TV jokes we don’t get, right?)
Season 2, Episode 2
As the episode opens, we see the house. “Oh, the house is still there!” I said to David, relieved. I was sort of trying to establish the time frame, but also sort of preparing myself for how much sobbing was about to take place. “I was thinking the same thing!” he said. That got me thinking about just how talented the writing team is at manipulation. How much skill it takes to tell a story in this sort of disjointed, but connected, way. Obviously all the fire/death/why is she wearing a jersey? questions remain. Classic This Is Us to dangle the start of a plot line in front of us and then pack it away until later. That’s okay. We’re patient.
Kevin and Beth Talk Randall
That moment when Kevin is all, “Why are you surprised…this is exactly who Randall is?” is priceless. It gets even better when we hear about how Beth and Randall met. I appreciated this scene, since we know Beth doesn’t care for Kevin. We know now that Beth and Randall have known each other since Randall was 19. That means she was there for the whole Kevin being unfaithful to Sophie situation. As someone who values her marriage, that would probably be difficult for her to move on from. Maybe it’s not necessarily as deep as that. Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that she is a confident, educated, successful, woman and Kevin is The Manny. What do they have in common, except for Randall? How do you get past small talk with Kevin? I want to know more about Beth. Do we know what her job is? What is her story?
We’ve seen the special connection between Rebekah and Randall. (Though I wish I could unhear teenage Kevin’s uncharitable comment about Randall “making his move” at the movie theater. Eesh.) This episode goes even further into the special connection between Kate and Jack. Where does that leave Kevin? Is that why he attaches so strongly to Sophie from the beginning? Is that why he spends so much time floundering in superficial relationships before Toby helps him remember Sophie?
My feelings toward Miguel are on a rollercoaster. If I was a serious TV reviewer person, not just someone who watches in my jammies, I would look up all the advice Miguel has given Jack or the other kids on the show. And I would decide once and for all if the kids’ overwhelming distaste for him is merited or just run-of-the-mill having a hard time with a “replacement” for an idolized parent. Last season I speculated that Miguel played a role in the Pearson’s marriage trouble, which basically made him lower than dirt as far as characters go. But he’s shown over and over to be on Team Pearson, and I’m pretty sure I was wrong about the interference. Will we see more of what happened in Miguel’s own marriage? Is he a misunderstood good guy? Or a secret villain?
The Work Scene
There were tears during this part, but I won’t say from whom. We can just see the struggle in Jack in balancing his three crazy kids with his super dumb boss and work responsibilities. The pressure of being the primary breadwinner as well as the weight of being a father is overwhelming. We see a shot later in the episode of Jack’s lame-o dad, and we know how much effort Jack puts into not becoming his dad. I wonder if we’ll get more insight into what made Jack’s dad such a jerk. If there’s a compelling backstory, does that make his lame-ness more forgivable? Or does Jack’s whole life show us that no matter how rough your childhood is, you can still be a decent human being? Does Grandpa Lame-o ever meet The Big Three?
The Big Adoption
I’ve been wishy-washy on the whole adoption situation so far.
On the one hand, our world would be a different place if more people would foster-adopt. Randall and Beth are good parents with a much good-er than average financial situation. At this point, is Randall even a stay-at-home dad? Could their situation be any more perfect? Their girls are compassionate and understanding and would have seen all sorts of things when William was staying with them. They are confident and capable, so it seems unlikely that they would devolve into selfish, whiny, kids who resent having to share with someone new.
On the other hand, until this point it didn’t seem like Randall grasped the seriousness of fostering a child with a suitcase of baggage. It has seemed a little bit like Randall wants to adopt to fulfill some cosmic need, which seems like a set up for failure, even with a “clean slate” baby. Growing up Randall felt pressure to perform in order to prove himself, and he had Rebekah and Jack for parents. Can you imagine the pressure to perform if Randall was your dad? From his perfect teeth to his perfect hold on his temper, it doesn’t get more perfect than Randall. To accept a child (any child, as Beth would remind us) is to embrace the imperfection. It’s to promise to love someone even when they are irrational and needy. Until Randall fully considered the kind of unconditional love needed by a wounded older child, I did not think that was a good idea for their family.
I would feel better about the adoption if we saw Randall reading some books on attachment issues or attending a class or something. Anything to show that he’s committed to loving a child as-is. What do you think? Good idea, or bad idea for Randall and Beth to adopt?
Team Kate Foreva!
Toby, Toby, Toby. If we had a dollar for every time you nailed “standing around awkwardly” in this episode, we’d have a lot of dollars. Isn’t that how everyone feels when getting to know potential in-laws, though? When Rebekah asked for the dirt on Kate’s breakdown, I was sure he was going to squeal like one of Migel’s little pigs in a blanket. But then he didn’t! (I want to make a joke about that taking nuts or nut cheese…but that’s not really my bag. Oof. I think that just happened. Sorry.)
The scene left me with a question: Toby demonstrates his love and loyalty to Kate all the time. All. The. Time. But sometimes I wonder what he sees in Kate. I’m not talking about appearance here, so don’t even. For the whole first season, Kate is #highmaintenance for realz. She has to be forced to have fun. She spends a lot of time being upset and not willing to let Toby in emotionally. This season she’s much more grounded, and I’m excited to see where finding herself in music takes her. If Toby had met this season Kate, it might make sense why he would fall for her. But last season she was a hot mess who wasn’t all that into him at first. We had a glimpse of last season Kate when she was prepping for her mom’s visit. Why do you think Toby liked Kate when it took so much effort?
What do you want to talk about from the most recent episode of This Is Us? All comments are welcome at Bookless Club! (Unless you are Miguel, in which case people will just roll their eyes and cut you off half way through whatever you say, apparently.)