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‘This Is Us’ Season 1 Review: We Found A New Family In A Spectacular First Season

Photo Credit: NBC

It’s the new show everyone is talking about. This Is Us captured hearts this TV season as it introduced us to The Pearson’s: Jack, Rebecca, Kate, Kevin and Randall. Not only did we get a new TV family, we got stories everyone can connect with. This Is Us reminds us that even the small moments can be impactful and our family and friends are the most important things in our lives.

Starting off as the most watched TV trailer ever, This Is Us became our new favorite show last season before it even started. Giving us one of the biggest twists on TV in just the pilot, we knew this first season would change television and swiftly become one of our favorite TV shows ever. Filling a hole left by the cancellation of ParenthoodThis Is Us proves that we still love a good family drama.

Giving us Emmy Award worthy performances from the entire cast and introducing us to remarkable characters, This Is Us came out swinging in its freshman season. We learned family comes in all different shapes and sizes, but we love each other anyway. While we only have one season so far, there’s no doubt about it, This Is Us will continue to deliver going into its second season.

Overall Impressions

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By the second episode, This Is Us quickly became our favorite new show this TV season. The series gave us unbelievable characters and realistic depictions of some of our every day struggles. While presented as a typical family drama, This Is Us became so much more. From the pilot when we learn there are two timelines being presented, we knew this changed how we watch family dramas. What started as a show about four people sharing a birthday, became a tight-knit family drama with many dimensions.

Throughout the season, This Is Us continuously built on the characters presented in the pilot as we learned more about The Pearson’s. By using flashbacks to Kate, Kevin and Randall’s childhood we learn about the kind of people they are in present day. The flashbacks also give us a glimpse of Jack and Rebecca as parents and even before they were parents. This Is Us shows that not only are our characters present day lives important, but also their pasts. Each episode built upon the previous as the show exposed more of our characters strengths and weaknesses. We learned that Kevin married his childhood sweetheart and wants to get back to her, Kate wants to be a singer like her Mom and Randall suffers from extreme panic attacks. This Is Us made characters that are so much more than what they appear to be on paper.

Since we can remember, we can’t think of a primetime series that had a perfect first season. Each episode allowed us to explore more about The Pearson’s and how they became and continue to be a family. This Is Us is incredible at storytelling and every episode proved important. There was never a “filler” episode and that’s what made this season such a stand out.

What Worked

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The Past and Present Storylines: Sometimes it’s hard for shows to intertwine timelines. Often it becomes confusing or one storyline becomes less interesting than another. This Is Us never had either of these problems in its first season. Both storylines effortlessly intertwined and were important week after week. Often, one storyline would inform the other, which made it all the more interesting. Not in one episode during season one, did one storyline overshadow the other, which is a testament to the incredible creative team behind This Is Us. Each version of The Big Three also is impeccable cast and helps add to the authenticity of the past and present storylines. The show even managed to seamlessly age up Mandy Moore for the present day, which is a feat in its own right.

Jack and Rebecca’s Relationship: Personally, my favorite new relationship on TV this season. Jack and Rebecca bring romance, heart and sacrifice to This Is Us as they quickly became the central force behind the series. First off, Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia’s have unmatchable chemistry and bring Jack and Rebecca’s romance and marriage to life like no other actors could. We can’t imagine anyone else taking on these roles, and frankly, we don’t want to. What makes Jack and Rebecca’s love story something different is that This Is Us isn’t afraid to show that they aren’t perfect. They fight and struggle just like any couple in real life would. Jack and Rebecca bring The Pearson’s to life and swiftly became an important part to This Is Us.

The Big Three: While Jack and Rebecca are essential to This Is Us, so are The Big Three. Kate, Kevin and Randall, in all three versions we see, help bring The Pearson clan to life. From their work with each other to their relationships with both Jack and Rebecca, This Is Us wouldn’t be the same without them. Season one gave each of the children to sine, whether it was in the past or present. In present day, we see Kevin become “Jack Pearson’s son” when he helps Randall. In the past, we see Randall and Jack develop an unbreakable bond. And in both the past and present, Kate proves to have a complicated relationship with Rebecca. Having a big central cast didn’t hinder This Is Us, it gave it its spark.

What Didn’t Work

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Alright, no show is perfect, but This Is Us comes pretty close. I literally can’t think of anything that didn’t work this season. For a freshman season, This Is Us hit the ground running and didn’t stop. Every storyline and every character worked perfectly to deliver an unbelievably groundbreaking show. There wasn’t a storyline that felt gratuitous, no character overstayed its welcome. This Is Us is a perfectly in sync machine and I can’t think of anything that I didn’t think worked in season one.

What We Wanted More Of

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Kevin and Sophie: Our fingers are crossed that we get more of this relationship in season two because I fell hard for Kevin and Sophie. This Is Us presents Kevin as a player and has him date several women before it’s revealed that he’s still in love with Sophie, his first wife and childhood sweetheart. This sends me into a whole range of emotions. Alexandra Breckenridge and Justin Hartley do a phenomenal job at bringing this relationship to life and showing how much history is between them. I would’ve loved to have seen more of them, but hopefully that’s in store for season two!

William and Jessie: Another relationship we wish we saw more of was William and Jessie. While the freshman season was all about William and Randall’s relationship, I would’ve loved to see more of William and Jessie together. They had such an adorable relationship, from the little bit we saw, and I wish we had more time with them.

Beth: Truly one of the best character’s on This is Us, Beth stole the show when she was in scenes. Not just Randall’s wife, Beth has a larger than life personality and I hope she gets to show it off in season two. I’d love to see Beth involved in more plot lines and even learn about her past. Randall and Beth are two incredible characters and I hope we get to see how they met and the early days of their relationship. Also, I just love Susan Kelechi Watson and always need more of her!

Tissues: I knew this show was going to make me cry, but jeez, I didn’t know I needed to buy stock in Kleenex! More tissues will be purchased ahead of season two. Or better yet, some customized This Is Us tissues would be GREATLY appreciated.

What We Wanted Less Of

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Commercials: Again, there are no plot lines or characters that overstayed their welcome in season 1, so there isn’t much to complain about. Could we maybe get less commercials? This is literally the only thing I can think of. I just want more This Is Us, is that too much to ask?

Favorite Episode

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Memphis (1×16): This is also the episode that made me cry the hardest, but “Memphis” is definitely the finest hour of this impeccable first season. After an entire season of Randall and William meeting and bonding, the end comes faster than any of us could’ve imagined. William and Randall take a trip to Memphis as part of a “goodbye tour” for William because his cancer is getting worse. It’s an emotional hour filled with William’s backstory, Randall cutting lose and watching the ducks. Damn, those freakin’ ducks.

Least Favorite Episode

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To be clear, I don’t have a least favorite episode this season, but if I had to choose one…

The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World (1×07): This isn’t even a bad episode, it’s just an episode that has the least going on in the grand scheme of the entire freshman season. This episode still has adorable moments and only This Is Us could make us love a washing machine so much.

Season Finale Impressions

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After a season of heartache and happiness, This Is Us could only deliver a heart wrenching season finale. The season finale sees The Big Three each dealing with new stages in their lives. Randall decides to quit work, Kevin heads off to meet with Ron Howard about a film role and Kate decides she’s going to pursue her dream of singing. Meanwhile in the past, I sat on the edge of my seat as Rebecca and Jack deal with a marriage crisis. Jack drives drunk to Rebecca’s show and the two argue. We also get to see when Jack and Rebecca first met. it’s an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish.

“Moonshadow” gave us a season finale that had us speculating about what’s ahead and wondering how Jack eventually dies. It’s an episode that leans heavily on Jack and Rebecca and that’s the perfect way to end season one. Once again, Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia give an exceptional performance as they show the beginning of Jack and Rebecca’s relationship and possibly the end.

While the season finale isn’t the best hour of This Is Us this season, it leaves a lasting impression that has me anxiously awaiting season two!

Season Two Speculations

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Set up a lot in season one, season two will most likely continue to focus on Jack and the circumstance in which he died. While I’m curious as to how Jack died, I hope this storyline isn’t rushed. I’d honestly push this reveal to the end of season two. I want to savor Jack’s life and the impact he’s had on Kate, Kevin, Randall and Rebecca before we learn of how he died. Obviously, Jack’s death plays a major role in present day and the relationships Rebecca currently has with each of her kids, but I just don’t want this reveal to be rushed and overpower the entire season.

At the end of season one, Kevin, Kate and Randall all made major life decisions that will obviously be explored in season two. Randall will be dealing with unemployment and finding a new job. Kevin will possibly get this movie role and have to decide between the movie role and Sophie. Meanwhile, Kate will pursue her music career and how she balances that with her relationship with Toby. I’m excited to see where everyone goes in season two and how these new ventures shape their storylines. Of course, William will also impact a lot of season two still, especially for Randall and Beth.

In terms of the past storylines, I hope we get to see more of The Big Three in high school and how their relationships with Jack and Rebecca evolve. Kevin and Randall’s sibling rivalry obviously plays a big role in the past and while we saw some of it, I’d like to explore more. Also, Rebecca and Kate’s relationship. It’s obviously a strained one and I’d like to explore more of that as well.

Of course, I also want more Jack and Rebecca because how could you not want more Mandy and Milo in your life?

What were your thoughts on This Is Us season 1? Sound off in the comments below!



Resident Sassenach and Little Mix fanatic. Constantly falling in love with fictional characters. Massive Walking Dead fan. Wish I could split my time between Stars Hollow, Dillon & Tree Hill. Twitter: @noradominick