Some people might call it too dramatic. Too painful. Too much. Maybe it is. Yet, here I am, emotionally invested in the family ties that make up This is Us. The series that caused a cascade of memes about how it’ll make you ugly cry and about how you have to keep reminding yourself that these are fictional characters you’re crying about.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a small summary: This is Us revolves around the Pearson family. Mom Rebecca, dad Jack, the two sons Kevin and Randall and daughter Kate. The show follows this family in all walks of life. From Rebecca and Jack’s back story to the kids being teenagers and from the kids going to college to them being full grown adults with families of their own (there’s a lot of make-up involved, as well as wigs, to make them appear older. I imagine they used the FaceApp to add 50 years to the actors lives and just went from there).
I have to admit: it’s a show that was made to make you feel something. To even intentionally pull on your heartstrings. I could go on and on about all the heartbreaking moments that happen and all the life lessons that you’ll learn (something about taking the sourest of lemons and turning it into something that resembles lemonade). But the thing it mostly makes me do, is reflect on my own family and the way that family ties change over the years.
The Pearson kids grow up thinking that their dad Jack is a real-life superhero. There’s nothing he can’t do or be and he always has time for a heart to heart. Rebecca isn’t so bad either. She’s always there for her kids, whether it’s taking care of them or giving them some great advice.
Along the way, you also get to know more about Jack and Rebecca’s backstory and the hardships they go through. With Jack it’s his insecurity of not being good enough for Rebecca, his demons from the Vietnam war and his addiction to alcohol. With Rebecca it’s the struggle of losing a child and being more than “just a mom” to her kids.
This is Us beautifully intertwines the storylines. Past, present and future all come together to build a bigger picture that makes up the family history. As adults, the Pearson kids remember the past: the life lessons, the traditions, the fights, the hardships, the laughs. They use these memories pushing forward, creating more memories along the way.
It resonates with what I’m noticing now. When I think back on my childhood, it’s pretty much the same. I always wondered how my parents knew the answers to all of my questions (you know, in a time before Google knew the answer to everything), how they were always rock solid and how they were always there for me. Little did I know about them having been kids themselves and having a whole life before they had children. To me they were just my parents. Always had been.
These days, they’re still my parents and I can still rely on them, but the dynamic has shifted. The relationship feels more equal. The questions I ask are different, the conversations we’re having are different and I get to know a whole different side to them that I never knew before.
Instead of “just a parent”, every day I see more and more of the whole person. A person with a past, a present and a future. With insecurities and flaws. With life lessons and traditions. With wild stories and funny anecdotes. With pain and sadness. I see a person that’s not just a parent, but also a son, a daughter, a wife, a husband, a friend, a colleague. And as the youngest of three children, the same actually goes for how I look at my brother and sister.
I know not all family lives look like mine or that of the Pearson’s (they are way to good looking and their heartfelt moments always come with the best soundtrack), but for me personally, This is Us is a reminder of how families are in an ever evolving state, with each member of that family taking on different roles as time progresses. With new things to learn, to discover and to talk about every day.