Four Reasons Why This Is Us is My Favorite New Show this Fall

Kate, Kevin, Rebecca, Jack, Randall, Beth - This Is Us

There are a lot of new programs on TV this fall. And, I will not mince words – I am struggling to keep up, because there were a lot of new programs I wanted to try out, plus I had many returning favorites. My DVR is getting close to being full, and real life is preventing me from ever getting fully caught up. And that is not even counting the spring and summer programs that I never got to watch, still patiently waiting for my attention.

But, despite that, I have had the opportunity to watch a smattering of new shows. And, of the ones I have watched, including a couple that sadly I have already abandoned, the standout for me this fall has been NBC’s This Is Us.

Full disclosure, I will admit that I had a crush on Milo Ventimiglia when I first saw him in Heroes. So to see him again in this program is a definite draw for me. And the same can be said of Justin Hartley, who I loved in both Smallville and the short-lived Emily Owens MD. But those actors were just two of the things that brought me to the show. What has kept me watching is so much more elaborate and satisfying!

Complex Yet Simple Plot
 

Randall and William - This Is Us

TV programs seem to be competing to give us more and more complex plots. Indeed, audiences seem to be demanding or expecting that. And, while some shows provide the viewer with an unnecessarily complicated plot that is so hard to follow it can actually drive viewers away, having a show with an overly simplistic plot can also be the kiss of death.

The most desirable outcome, for me at least, is to find that sweet spot – a program complex enough to keep my attention, but not so complicated that I need a guidebook to follow. Now, don’t get me wrong, even with shows I adore, I will sometimes avail myself of the internet with bunches of Wiki pages, at least for the more popular shows or ones with a passionate fan base. Those can help immensely if you forget some minor character or plot detail dredged up at a later time.

In my opinion, This Is Us has found that sweet spot! The plot is simple on a face value basic level, but as the program progresses, it has become more complex and yet not difficult to follow. Perfection achieved!

Compelling Characters
 

Kevin - This Is Us

Another important characteristic of a good show is compelling characters. While it is not likely anyone can relate to every character, most people are able to relate to at least one character, and hopefully more. In fact, I think the enjoyment of a program is directly related to either how much a viewer relates to the characters, the storylines, or both. It is therefore important for a drama to provide the audience with a good variety of relatable characters with logically plotted stories.

How an audience relates to the characters and story lines varies, and even in the case where you cannot directly relate to a character, you may be able to relate to their struggles on a visceral level. So for instance, while I cannot directly identify with Kevin’s anxiety with his acting career because I have never been an actor, I can connect to the concept of job related angst, and thus can feel for him.

Lots of Twists and Turns
 

Rebecca and Randall - This Is Us

Certainly TV audiences have come to expect plot twists. Just like complex plots, we really do expect them in our dramas. So for a show to provide those is not unusual – but rather mandatory. However, the effective delivery varies from show to show. Some shows successfully pull off the twist, while others are easily figured out before the big reveal.

This Is Us managed to pull off a really huge plot twist at the very end of the premiere episode that I did not see coming. And truth be told, I think that one surprise is the biggest part of what hooked me on this show. Since then there have been other revelations that just keep making the show more interesting.

And Now For the Rest of the Story
 

Kevin, Randall, Kate - This Is Us

Most of you are probably too young to remember Paul Harvey, a famous radio broadcaster whose shows aired from the 1950s to the 1990s. In particular, he had a program called “The Rest of the Story,” which was about some obscure fact, and at the end of which he revealed the key element, which was usually some famous person. He ended the program with some variation of: “And now you know the rest of the story.”

This Is Us makes me think of that, and how much I enjoyed listening to Paul Harvey’s shows. With each episode we get a little more of the back story of these characters, and understand the intertwining of their lives just a bit better. I am finding these reveals to be just at the right pace – not so slow I want to tear my hair out, but not so quickly as to not intrigue me and make me keep watching!

 

Have you been watching This Is Us? What do you think about it? I would love to hear your opinions on this program! Let me know in the comments section below.