April 6, 2021
Everyone loves a great story you can connect to. We all love the overcomer stories and those movies that inspire us to be better. As for most of us, we all search for shows we can relate to and feel like we can become a part of the story. In 2016, the first episode of This Is Us aired on NBC and took over the viewer audience as it quickly grew in popularity. This Is Us represents and connects so many people over different topics in which we all struggle. This show has the perfect balance of tasteful depiction of family while still incorporating the challenges every family often faces.
The show was inspired by real people, hence, why it relates to so many people. Show writer, Dan Fogelman, was asked in an interview from what and where did his inspiration come. He said, “I was in my late 30s at the time—about 38—and I was struck by how wildly different the lives of my peers could be, even though we were all the same age. I had friends who were married, some single. Some had preteen children, others none. Some were satisfied in their careers, others less so. Some had experienced great loss—of parents, of friends—others hadn’t even lost a grandparent. And I thought, I’m going to write something about all these people, all exactly the same age and born on the same day.” We can all relate to at least one or two of these statements made by Fogelman. It is no surprise that a show based off real struggles stirs up such great empathy.
This show is such a breath of fresh air in a time like 2021. The TV show has come a long way as it finishes up season five. A beautiful story has unfolded throughout each season. In season one and two, the show covers the difficulties of finding your identity. One of the characters, Randall Pearson, was both abandoned and adopted at birth by the Pearson family. He grows up with this white family struggling with why he looks different and why a lot of the other kids would pick on him. Growing up in the ‘70s was not easy for Randall, but the show tells a captivating story of him finding success even when the odds are against him. As the show progresses, his biological dad steps into his life, and the show reveals a raw relationship between Randall and his biological father.
Although we all might not be able to relate to the adversity Randall faced, we can all relate to the feeling of trying to figure out who we are in this crazy world. This was also something the rest of the characters had to deal with. Whatever the adversity, the characters have to deal with the reality of death or the simple principle of struggling from a place of success.
We see that the daughter, Kate Pearson, struggles with control issues which lead her to anxiety. She ends up getting married to a husband who develops depression, and she has to learn how to love and support him in his daily battle to just get out of bed. In season three Kate’s husband, Toby, makes his depression public, and Kate is left in this place of trying to maneuver a new marriage and fighting infertility while still being a good spouse by supporting her struggling husband. This season shows the truth of life and even the most positive people, like Toby, have no exemptions from depression. It taught me lots of different principles of helping others that may be going through depression.
Above all of this, I love this show simply because of the relationship that Jack and Rebecca share as they maneuver married life. Jack and Rebecca are the mom and dad of the show. Jack was a Vietnam Veteran and as he comes back he meets Rebecca, and they quickly fall in love. Although this show is not based on Christian morals, it doesn’t take much to see that this world is longing for a Biblical family dynamic. Jack represents what a strong but humble man is supposed to look like. He wrestles with generational sins that he must face to break the cycle, so he can better love and support his family. Rebecca represents the strong and loving woman and how that plays out in the family dynamic. Her loyalty to Jack just shows she is the glue to the whole family and even the whole show. Even in the toughest episodes of the show, this couple strives to raise their kids in a loving home. Even though they never claim to be Christians, there are so many great lessons to learn from this family and how they work hard while keeping their love for each other as the priority. In this American individualist culture, it is so refreshing to see a depiction someone that focuses on a collectivist form of family. Even though I don’t recommend finding all your life advice from this show, I think the writers do a great job of roping in the audience and teaching us all some important lessons we face in life.
Written by Riley Anderson
Riley is a junior majoring in Christian Leadership and Church Ministry with a minor in Biblical Studies.