Finding Ourselves through This is Us
Ryan Duncan Crosswalk.com blogspot for ChristianMovieReviews.com and Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Entertainment and Culture editor
- Updated Oct 28, 2016
Most people are probably familiar with the old saying, “Art imitates life.” It serves as a reminder that the things we see in movies and television often have some basis in reality. However, the proverb can also refer to the heart of an audience. Viewers are naturally drawn to stories they can empathize with, which may explain why NBC’s newest drama, This is Us, has become the smash hit of the season. Not only has the series been lauded for its powerful themes and a heart-wrenching twists, but some Christians have even glimpsed the gospel message amidst the character’s individual struggles.
This is Us chronicles the lives of three siblings who were all born on the same day. There’s Kate, a morbidly obese woman who battles with low self-esteem, Randall, the adopted brother still searching for his identity, and Kevin, a famous actor who still manages to be overshadowed by his two siblings. Together with their parents, the three try to overcome their personal demons while seeking to love and support each another as a family. It was Kate who first drew J. Nicole Morgan, of Christianity Today, to the series. Morgan found she could relate to the character, but soon discovered the show itself could be used as an allegory for the Christian walk. She writes,
“At the end of 1 Corinthians 13, we read, ‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love’ (vv. 12–13). Bringing up the ‘love chapter’ is perhaps fitting for a show whose greatest criticism seems to be its sentimentality, but the truth remains. The people we meet on This is Usdo not see their past or the future clearly, and neither do we. But we believe in the hope that we will one day. We watch the characters on This is Us choose love for their families in the face of all the questions and pain.”
“God promises beauty for ashes, hope for despair, and gladness for mourning. We love to tell the stories of the beauty and hope; we don’t often tell the story of the in between times when we are waiting. This Is Us tells us that story and invites us to eagerly anticipate redemption. May we hope as earnestly for ourselves, our neighbors, and our country. May our preconceived ideas about how someone should be past an old hurt not hinder our ability to empathize with deep wounds and cheer them on towards the healing and wholeness found in Christ.”
The Bible tells us that in this world we will have trouble, but to take heart because Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33). Many of us are just like the characters in This is Us; stuck in neutral, unsure of ourselves, and still fighting old temptations we thought we’d put to rest. Yet, even in these difficult times we’re reminded that God has bigger plans for us. So we keep going, we hold to family and friends, and we discover that faith is more of a journey than we realized. Thankfully, our God will always lead us toward renewal.
This is Us may not be an overtly Christian show, but it’s certainly a piece of art which imitates life. We are all troubled characters desperately seeking grace, and Christ helps us find it, one step at a time.