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Recognizing Our Joy in 'This is Us'

Recognizing Our Joy in 'This is Us'

In a culture of streaming services and instant videos, This is Us has become something of a pop culture revelation. By now, most people are familiar with the NBC drama which has overtaken television. The simple series has no bells or whistles, it merelychronicles the lives of a single family. There’s Jack and Rebecca, a loving couple endeavoring to raise three children. Kate, their daughter, who suffers from compulsive eating. Kevin, their son and an aspiring actor, and Randall, the couple’s brilliant adopted child.

It’s no secret why the show has become a massive success. The whip-smart writing, emotional dialogue, and powerful performances could more than soften the hardest heart. However Russell Moore, of the Southern Baptist Convention, believes there is a deeper message which has resonated with viewers. In an article for the Washington Post, Moore writes,

“The secret to ‘This is Us’ is less about ogling some other, strange, dysfunctional family as it is about seeing in it our own...”

“At the same time, though, we see them as children, and we see there’s not all that much distance between the two. We see a glimpse of the way the decisions made in private of a young couple who never planned to be parents reverberate through the years in the lives of their offspring.”

According to Moore, viewers are drawn to This is Us because it serves as a mirror for our own lives. We can empathize with characters such as Randall, who feels both deeply loved yet also as something of an outcast. In Kate, we recognize our own weaknesses and our struggles to overcome them. Even Kevin carries his own troubles, and like the failing actor, we can’t help but pick at the scars of the past. Still, there is much more to our lives than simply pain.

There are good things to be found in the past as well. We can remember the moments of mercy, of grace, and laughter we shared with others. Ultimately, we get a say in how the past can affect our future. We may not know where the story of life will take us, but we can decide what type of character we want to be on the way. That is why This is Us strikes such a familiar cord with viewers, because in a way, we’re on the same journey as the Pearson family. Moore concludes his article by encouraging both readers and audiences to reflect on this simple truth,   

“We see the plot behind the plot, but the characters don’t. They learn to show mercy when they realize how much they don’t — and can’t — understand, even about themselves. Maybe we love ‘This is Us’ because this, in fact, is us.”

*Published 2/6/2018