We crave real
We see the contrast between shallowness leading to emptiness and depth leading to fulfillment. We cheer when Kevin calls out Olivia for running from anything that might feel genuine and we weep when he tells Sophie he himself is an empty shell of a person. Sometimes we too feel empty and incapable of loving. Yet we desperately long to be more than hallow shells and we hold out hope that Kevin (and maybe us too) will choose vulnerability instead of vanity.
Deaths unstoppable sting
This show reminds us of the havoc that death wreaks on those it leaves behind. It reveals that death is uncontrollable and grief is inescapable. We can stuff, run, hide, and deny, but grief chases us. We see that healing is a process and not a destination. While the darkness of death is not ignored we also see that death can bring about the light of legacy and memories which can never be taken from us.
This Is Us so creatively and brilliantly portrays the tangled webs woven deeply inside of us, starting from day one. And it causes us to grapple with questions like nature vs nurture. We are reminded that the lenses we all interpret life from are vastly different, even when we grow up in the same house as someone else. We see our 7 year old self still inside of our ever changing 30 year old self. We are boringly predictable yet scarily surprising. There are a million different things playing into the ways we think and act and live, and often we’re totally unaware of them.
The mess behind the beauty
The show does not shy away from the brutally hard side of things like adoption or foster care or family or marriage. It does not glamorize true beauty. It reveals it in all its gut wrenching and heart breaking mess. Sometimes it exposes the ugly mess so accurately that it makes us question the value of the jewel hidden in all the muck.
But the beauty is worth it
Time and time again we see that the risk and even the pain are worth it. We see that life is full of injustices. We see that racism and addiction and death and abandonment and utter selfishness exists. We see how choosing someone means taking on their own struggles and stories. Yet we’re left with the hope that relationships really are a mess worth making.
It’s not the fairy tale, romanticized, fabricated kind of love we often get on the TV. It’s the most raw kind. The kind that makes a Dad look into his rebellious or insecure or ungrateful child’s eyes and tenderly wrap his hands around their neck and say “You’re mine and nothing will change that.” The kind of love that fiercely protects and wholeheartedly fights. The kind that says, “I have a problem, will you help me?” The kind that responds “I’m not going anywhere.” This is the love that keeps us sobbing and smiling and cheering and coming back for more.
I think we all love it because this really is us.