Buzz for This Is Us started back in May 2016 when its trailer racked up over 50 million views on Facebook. The NBC drama now captivates audiences every Tuesday night, with social media flooded with chatter about the emotional drama. The pilot had a major twist, hooking viewers for the rest of the season. And this past week’s episode especially had people freaking out online. But for those that aren’t clued into the show, many might generally be asking what exactly is This Is Us about and why is everyone so obsessed with it?
(Editor’s note: spoilers are ahead)
Trailers for the show teased the factoid that 18 million people over the world share same birthday, the only thing that seemingly connected Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) who are all celebrating their 36th birthday in different ways: Jack’s wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) goes into labor with triplets, Kevin quits his acting job while filming, Kate beats herself up over her weight, and Randall has finally tracked down his birth father.
During the pilot, one of Jack and Rebecca’s babies dies during childbirth, but the couple decides to adopt a child at the hospital that was left earlier that day outside a firehouse. The baby boy is black. By the end of the episode, viewers find out that the show’s big twist: it has two timelines. Jack and Rebecca are in the 1970s, parents to siblings Kevin, Kate, and Randall, along with a current day plot where the three of them are adults and navigating through their own lives.
The show’s setup is prime for dramatic fodder and has proved to be packed with scenes bringing audiences to tears. Some might consider This Is Us to be emotionally manipulative, but many have also pointed out that the show does a candid job of portraying real-life experiences and family ties.
Furthermore, what makes the show such a compelling watch are the actors, who bring a warm camaraderie whenever they’re all on screen together. Sterling does a standout job, much like his past performances such as The People vs. O.J. Simpson. What also rounds out the show’s heart is the nostalgia of seeing Ventimiglia (perhaps best known as Jess in Gilmore Girls) and Moore, both former teen idols now grown ups performing as young parents.
Beyond the twist at the beginning of the season, This Is Us continues to pull at the heartstrings and springs surprises on fans. We find out that Jack actually passed away when the siblings were teens and many theories have been circulating about what happened. And in the February 21 episode, Randall’s biological father also passed away after the show fleshed out their relationship throughout the season. Sterling even got emotional during a Facebook Live broadcast talking about the characters’ arc. The most recent death is what had fans particularly freaking out on Tuesday night.