Last night I watched the season finale of the new NBC drama, "This is Us." For the first time in, oh, forever, I'm actually watching a show in real-time. That never happens. Never. Even the handful of reality shows I watch are watched on demand. Yet this show captivated me so much I don't want to miss it as soon as it airs. And, I watch the episode again, maybe more than once, because I love it so much.
I'm not the only one in love with this show. My social media feed fills up on Tuesday nights when this show is on. It's been a long time since a drama like this one has drawn so many people into its fold. It's this observation that made me examine why I love this show so much.
There are a lot of things to point out - the acceptance of an interracial adoption at a time when it wasn't so much the norm, a woman battling weight issues, the challenges of the every day life of a normal American family, the realism found within this family. But I can narrow it down to one major thing. The men on the show. Specifically Jack Pearson, played by Milo Ventimiglia. If you haven't watched the show and intend to, spoiler alert ahead.
Jack is the father of the children who star in the show. In this first season, we've seen the birth - and adoption - of his children, the love he has for his wife, the struggle with alcohol that is becoming more evident, and the way he parents his children. In the season finale, we learned even more about his family background that was hinted to before. The refreshing thing about Jack is the writers aren't portraying him - or any of the men for that matter - as weak, meager men like most dramas and sitcoms do these days. Jack is strong. He fights for his family. He fights for his marriage. Yes, he has his faults, but he admits to them. He's not perfect. And we know that Jack has passed on, though we don't know details.
We've seen Jack proclaim he doesn't want to be like his father, who was abusive to his mother. We learn in the season finale that he was a Vietnam Veteran and didn't come back angry at the world and his country. And we see how his parenting is being played out in the lives of his children. So many touching scenes to represent that, but one comes to mind. His son, Randall, suffered from panic attacks, and Jack knew how to calm him down in a way no one else could. Now in adulthood, with his father gone, Randall's brother, Kevin, comes to the rescue of Randall's latest breakdown. Just like his father, Jack, would. There are some many more examples, but are beautifully written in a tapestry-like way that make the most impact when watched on the screen. This is one of the most exquisitely-written shows I've watched in a long time.
Thank you, NBC, for allowing a show where men are portrayed in a way we rarely see in today's television shows. Thank you, Hollywood, for producing a show that doesn't push agendas every week. I'm worn out over everyone - on both sides - pushing agendas in my face. You've brought a show to the screen that is so well written and pricks the heart of the viewer in a way few shows do. We need more of those kinds of shows. And more Jack Pearsons in our lives.