This Is Us Bookless Club

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Not a book.


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

The House
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?


Parental Relationships
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?

Oh, Miguel
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.)

Day 1:  I’m baaaaaack!
Day 2:  The House Sitchiation
Day 3: An ER Adventure
Day 4: First Reconciliation Head to Head
Day 5: Packing Struggles
Day 6: This Is Us Bookless Club


  1. // Reply

    I hate that I am missing this season! Due to the location of our antenna and that we live in the country I cannot get nbc. I tried to watch on the nbc app but all the episodes are locked! You have to have a subscription to a caple provider! It is beyond frustrating so thank you for this insight/update, it is one of my favorite shows!

    1. // Reply

      Mary! We watch online a couple days after it air on regular TV. Right now neither episode from season two is locked. We don’t have the app…we just watch on our laptop. We do not have cable or a subscription. We only watch things that are free. I know we can’t watch things “live” online without a subscription…but we’ve not had problems watching things a few days later.

  2. // Reply

    YES!! Love love love this show. I do hate how they dangle things at the end and then revisit them wayyyy later, though. (I seriously wanted to burst into tears at the end of the first episode this season but was too shocked. The house? Wha?) I actually really love the adoption part, more for the very real conversations Beth and Randall have about it – not necessarily because of the whole getting a baby/kid part. (But that’s cool too. I dig it.) My favorite scene in episode 2 was Toby telling Rebecca that he was Team Kate. It’s SO EASY to let other people get in the middle of a relationship but Toby was basically like “Ain’t happening, woman!” But in a much more respectful way. Go Toby!

    You bring up so many good thoughts. Thanks for this! I’m all about a bookless club! Haha.

    1. // Reply

      I thought of you and your marriage month when we were watching This Is Us last night. The show has a lot to say about marriage and making it work.

  3. // Reply

    My husband made a comment last night when we watched episode 2 that he hates how they always flash back to supposedly “happy” memories and then reveal to you that things weren’t so great underneath it all. I looked at him and said, that’s exactly why this show resonates with so many people. It’s REAL. This is life. This is “us”.

    This show is giving us permission to be dysfunctional and still find joy in the chaos. It gives families permission to have real problems underneath their Facebook facade. I love this show, because of the humanity it reveals to us. These people live seemingly perfect/ideal lives, but are all broken and hurting inside. I can’t wait for the rest of the season! It’s just so good!

    1. // Reply

      Yes times a million! You can be broken and still love and be loved.

  4. // Reply

    Okay, I haven’t ever watched it but the way everyone talks about it I’m getting fomo! Lol

  5. // Reply

    >>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?

    That we do, and sometimes when the TV show gets mainstream enough we’re even able to reference iconic scenes in appropriate contexts like we’ve actually watched them (I’m looking at you trifle episode of Friends… Or really, all of Friends). All that to say, sorry I won’t be able to really participate here… But maybe in a few years? ?

  6. // Reply

    Thanks for writing again! So fun to have an email saying there is a post to read rather than piles of junk mail.

    I would love to join your book-less club! Only problem is I can only watch the episodes a week after they air. (Apple TV) So I will be behind. I will actually read this post next week. : ) I just watched season2 episode 1 last night.

    I tried to get husband man to watch with me but he hasn’t yet. So for now it’s just me and the laundry basket of clothes ready to be folded. : ) well- and now the book-less club!

    1. // Reply

      Way to make laundry enjoyable. I’m so glad you’re willing to be part of the bookless club! 🙂

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