Saturday, March 24, 2018

TV Show Review: This Is Us (Season 2)

The moving NBC drama continues to deliver emotional moments and surprises in its second season. The Big Three celebrate their joint birthdays as each of them looks to start a new stage of their life. Randall (Sterling K. Brown) wants to adopt a baby to honor his late father's legacy but his wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) suggest possibly an older child would be easier. Kate (Chrissy Metz) tries to audition as a singer but needs to practice more. She moves forward with her relationship with Toby (Chris Sullivan) as she opens up more about her father's death. In the past, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) struggles with alcoholism and there are hints about his death. Rebecca (Mandy Moore) copes with her husband's addiction and eventually with his death.

Kevin (Justin Hartley) struggles with an addiction of his own. He strives for fame and lowers himself to returning the "The Manny", the sitcom that he left under strenuous circumstances. Kevin lands a movie with Sylvester Stallone but he tries to cover up an injury. This injury leads him to a strong addiction to painkillers. His relationship with his childhood crush Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) is strained to the breaking point. More is revealed about the Pearson family as the flashbacks jump from their childhood trick-or-treating to their twenties. The Pearson family grows in several ways as Kate becomes pregnant but is afraid to share the news and Randall and Beth struggle to find a child to adopt. They find Déjà (Lyric Ross) who has a history of getting into trouble but they are willing to work with her.

In the past, Jack and Rebecca work to complete the adoption of Randall even as Rebecca deals with the judgement of her racist mother. Each one of the Pearson Big Three has an individual episode where they cope with their problems, Kevin's addiction, Kate's miscarriage and weight issues, and Randall's adoption. The mystery of how Rebecca and her second husband Miguel (Jon Huertas) reconnected starts to get revealed but the full romance after Jack will be saved for later seasons. The mystery of Jack's death is the real focal point of this second season and a seemingly unrelated story reveals the crockpot that short-circuited and started the fire. A Super Bowl special that I was too tired to stay up and watch that night provided the final explanation as Jack went back into the house to save the family dog and later died of smoke inhalation.

The season moves on as the three Pearson siblings address their grief a little more head on and start to cope with their sadness. Kevin goes to rehab, Kate and Toby plan a wedding and get a dog, while Randall takes on a new project as a landlord and works to help Déjà. The family still has drama but there are some happier beats in Vegas and with a wedding finale. The show does a great job with tearjerker moments but also has plenty of humor. There is an especially sweet episode with a crooked-ear cat that used to belong to Randall's real father that lead him to the rental property. The show has a lot still to learn and great characters to take it through the various stages of life.

This Is Us has captured something magical to bring me back to network television not just for comedies. While the story is a simple life drama, it manages to have great twists and turns The characters don't always make the greatest decisions but it is easy to see how they have grown and developed over the years with great characters playing each generation very well, especially Emmy and Golden Globe winner Sterling K. Brown. The storytelling is something pretty remarkable as I would not have thought I would generally like a show like this one but I have found it to be one of the more entertaining shows to watch. I am a bit late getting my review out because there is just so much television to write about these days. I look forward to where this show will take the Pearsons in future seasons.

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