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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – An Open Dialogue to End the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health (4×11)

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On this week’s installment of This Is Us, Randall reminded us all that self-care is important.

Randall deals with anxiety on a regular basis, but as the stress of his job, his mother’s illness, and the break-in at his home piled on, Randall was crumbling, as any human would be.

As Beth pointed out, it’s a lot for anyone to handle.

Randall put on a brave face and tried to bottle it all inside and ignore the warning signs, but eventually, that anger, fear, resentment, it all had to go somewhere.

It ended up being channeled to thwart a snatch-and-grab, which wasn’t the worst way to cope, but it wasn’t the right way either.

Randall saved a woman, he was hailed as a hero, but he felt far from that and he wasn’t okay. He was screaming internally and no one could hear him.

He hasn’t been for a while, he’s just good at covering it up.

It may not have been the best episode of This Is Us because it wasn’t loaded with feel-good moments, dramatic reveals, or Jack saying all the right things, but it was one of the most important episodes to date.

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The series devoted a whole episode to addressing mental health and the stigma around asking for help specifically as it relates to men of color.

Many people, Randall included, saw his anxiety as a weakness. He didn’t feel that he could talk about his problems or be open about them until eventually, he couldn’t keep them bottled up inside.

His psyche was damaged by the intruder more than he was letting on and as we found out more about the break-in and that the man was upstairs where the girls were sleeping, it became harder for Randall to cope.

When Randall finally reached his breaking point, he called Kevin, the one person who has become his rock overtime and has lifted him up when he was down and held him when he needed to cry. We saw it happen on This Is Us Season 1 when Randall had a panic attack at his old job, and it happened again at the end of the episode.

Kevin’s a good brother, and it’s important we have that person we can turn to when things get hard, but it’s also important that we understand that sometimes, it pays to talk to someone that’s a trained psychologist that can help us solve our problems and walk through our trauma; someone who can begin the healing process.

It’s also important to note how strong their brotherly love is here compared to the fractured relationship that was shown in the future. Could they have fallen out because Randall kept his mother’s diagnosis a secret at her request? Or was it something more? Maybe something to do with Randall’s refusal to seek professional help for his issues.

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There were a few people throughout the course of the episode that tried to help Randall including Darnell who stopped by to let him know therapy is nothing to be ashamed of. He encouraged Randall to seek help and told him how he used to be a tripwire until he found someone to talk to about his issues.

He informs Randall that it’s a weight lifted when you can just open up about everything regardless if you talk about what’s hurting you, upsetting you, or making you happy. But that doesn’t resonate with Randall who brushes him off and assures him running is good enough therapy. That is until he turns a corner and witnesses a robbery.

Since This Is Us expertly plays with multiple timeless, Randall’s anxiety is layered in both the past and present as they intertwine to show us that Randall’s nightmares have consistently been a byproduct of his stress and something he’s learned to live with but never learned to manage.

In his college days, Randall has nightmares following Jack’s death and asks Beth to sleep over countless times. When she encourages talking to someone rather than torturing himself, he refuses.

When she’s finally able to convince him to seek out some counseling in the form of a grief group, Randall is unable to attend because his problems and worries keep piling on, this time with Kate, which seems to be the third part in the Pearson trilogy.

We also see scenes of a young Randall who keeps finding comfort in his father’s arms because he’s scared of monsters and cannot fall asleep in his new big boy bed. However, Jack’s response to Randall telling him that he’s scared may have been the start of a harmful pattern. Jack, the ever-exhausted father who just wants to watch “The Shining” in peace tells his son to be “lowkey” and essentially to “step it up” because there’s nothing to be scared of.

This teaches Randall that his fears and anxieties aren’t warranted and shouldn’t be brought to anyone’s attention.

We see him try to deal with his anxiety in low-key manner in college when he’s having nightmares and again in the present. His father’s words are constantly echoing in his subconscious as he downplays his fears and emotions to Kevin. Jae Kwon, Darnell, and even his own wife.

Jack’s rhetoric continues to create bad behaviors for Randall as his father tells him to “be brave.”

It’s certainly admirable that Randall can stand his own against an intruder to protect his family, but he doesn’t have to be brave all the time.

To his credit, Jack did thank Randall for being brave enough to voice that he was scared, which is an important lesson and one that hopefully, Randall remembers soon enough.

This Is Us was also brave as they attempted to change the dialogue surrounding mental health. It may not be the cure-all, but it’s a start just as Randall reaching out to his brother and acknowledging that he has a problem was a start.

As we continue, the series is tapping into some of the issues that have very obviously been plaguing the Big Three but have never been fully addressed. The siblings may have had the perfect parents, but they’re far from perfect and most of the time, they’ve been running from their issues instead of addressing them head-on.

The second part of the trilogy surrounds Kevin, who answered Sophie’s call and was on his way to her father’s funeral when he picks up Randall’s first phone call. By the second call, Kevin’s laying in bed with Sophie and acknowledging that he may have made a mistake, which is where we start tapping into all of Kevin’s deeply buried issues with commitment and more. The teaser for Kevin’s episode seems to be all about “true love” and Sophie, the one that got away.

It’s a promising cliffhanger as we all anxiously (for lack of a better word) wait to see who Kevin’s pregnant wife is in the flash-forward scenes.

Not to dismiss Kevin’s moment, but I’m deeply interested in Kate’s storyline. It’s been hinted that things with her older boyfriend Marc got pretty dark in previous episodes, but the series never followed up on it until this week when we had a brief snippet of Kate’s phone conversation with Marc where she was asking him why he was so angry.

Towards the end of the episode, college Randall gets a call from Kevin that something happened to Kate and they’re on their way to pick him up. Is this a case of domestic abuse?

Alright, so the few takeaways from this episode:

  • Mental health matters — be sure to check on your loved ones today.
  • Therapy is nothing to be ashamed of and is encouraged. It’s incredibly brave to seek help and work towards becoming the best version of yourself.
  • Alarm systems are a priority. It’s hard to believe Randall didn’t have one considering his anxiety, his concern for his family, and the fact that they have the means and can afford it.


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Lizzy Buczak is the founder of CraveYouTV. What started off as a silly blog in her sophomore year at Columbia College Chicago turned her passion for watching TV into an opportunity! She has been in charge of CraveYou since 2011, writing reviews and news content for a wide variety of shows. Lizzy is a Music Business and Journalism major who has written for RADIO.COM, TV Fanatic, Time Out Chicago, Innerview, Pop’stache and Family Time.

This Is Us

This Is Us Review – Adding to the Family Tree (5×09)

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This Is Us Review The Ride Season 5 Episode 9

 

This Is Us Season 5 Episode 9 tackled the hardships and joys of parenting while painting it as a rewarding yet terrifying and difficult journey, no matter where you are in life.

Regardless of how many books you read or how many shows you watch about parenting, absolutely no one is prepared to be a parent, especially not a first-time parent. The series makes that very clear as it tackles three different timelines over the span of an hour. 

And surprisingly, all the action happens during the car drives from the hospital. 

Who knew they could be so illuminating?

Given the car setting, it would be understandable if the episode was boring and uneventful, but it was the exact opposite; it gave audiences a glimpse into the lives of the characters as they started a new chapter in their lives with their respective families.

We’ve seen the magic that is the Pearson clan, but now we’re seeing the magic from the families of the Big Three.

It’s the first day of the rest of their lives, and This Is Us captured every feeling and emotion brilliantly. 

The series has a knack for making profound television, and it doesn’t even require the characters to exit the vehicle. 

During Jack and Rebecca’s drive home from the hospital, the new parents felt overwhelmed with the idea of taking home three newborn babies. 

A road rage incident triggered Jack, which led him to down a bit of a spiral as he secretly purchased and chugged a small bottle of whiskey at the gas station. While the scene was initially concerning, he eventually confessed what he did to Rebecca. What a relief.

And he explained his concerns that he was going to be an alcohol father just like his dad was. 

Rebecca reminded him that he’s nothing like his dad because he doesn’t suck up the air in the room — he is the air. 

Instead of focusing on the negatives and what-ifs, the duo just embraced the moment for what it was: the moment they became a family. 

When you look at it as a moment of celebration, your whole mindset changes.

Parents have a huge impact on the kind of people we become, for better or worse. 

In Jack’s case, he didn’t want to be like his old man, but in Kevin’s case, he wanted to live up to his father. 

The Big Three have a tendency to put Jack on a pedestal and view him as this perfect father, but it was nice to see that notion grounded a bit.

Jack and Kevin both struggled with the idea of becoming fathers. 

The car seat scene was a nice touch showing just how similar their experiences were — neither of them read the dang manual and decided to wing it on the spot. 

However, Kevin couldn’t exactly get any advice from his dad, which is where the dream sequence came into play. 

Kevin was worried that he would fail, and Jack let him know that he’s capable and he’ll figure it out. 

The dream also provided fans with a rare look at Justin Hartley and Milo Ventimiglia in a scene together.

While they may be father and son to all of us, they rarely get to share scenes since Jack is long gone by the time Kevin is an adult. 

This Is Us Review The Ride Season 5 Episode 9

THIS IS US — “The Ride”, Episode 509 — Pictured in this screen grab: (l-r) Chris Sullivan as Toby, Chrissy Metz as Kate — (Photo by: NBC)

Their dynamic is so effortless that it’s hard to look away. 

However, you always need your dad, and Jack’s “visit” gives him perspective and guidance. 

Kevin realizes that he’s going to be fine because he sees just how strong Madison is. She’s a boss who is handling this whole “new mom” thing without any stress. 

Not only does she birth twins, but she offers to drive them all home after several sleepless nights and even handles his paparazzi situation. 

She’s a super mom. 

All of this puts makes Kevin realize that what he wants most at this point in his life is a family.

So, he proposes to Madison in a heartwarming moment using the hospital band as a ring. Could it be any more perfect?

The series has been slowly inching towards the idea that Kevin is no longer enchanted by the entertainment industry as prioritized the birth of his twins over the movie, picked a fight with a fan, and even confronted the paparazzi.

So much of Kevin’s self-worth has been tied up in his career that I’m really interested in seeing him in this new chapter in his life.

We also see Randall and Beth’s post-delivery ride home with Annie, who is described as an angel on Earth. 

It’s clear that taking home the second child is much less stressful than the first child. They even make time for a DQ run!

However, Randall makes the mistake of broaching the topic of a third child. Of course, he wants a boy, but Beth’s not interested in any of it because well, she just destroyed her insides and pushed out a child.

I love how real Beth is about every damn thing in life. She’s my spirit animal. 

Of course, it’s fun to watch knowing how life unfolds for Randall, who eventually adds a third child to see his family that isn’t a boy!

The whole scene comes full-circle when Randall has a heart-to-heart with infant Annie and explains that his desire to have more children is because Beth and the girls are the start of his family tree. At that point in time, Randall didn’t know anything about his birth parents, so his comments make sense, but in the present, we know that he’s added quite a lot of branches to that tree. 

Regardless, it’s a sweet moment that’s only made sweeter with the flash-forward that shows Deja and Annie arriving at Kevin’s house to say goodbye to a frail Rebecca. 

Prior to that moment, we find out that Deja is working at a hospital. When Annie picks her up, she gifts her a teething giraffe and informs her that she can’t keep this pregnancy a secret for long.

More babies — more branches! So many generations in one short hour!

And how incredible is the casting for all three of Randall’s adult daughters? 

The flash-forward is yet another tease, and we’ll hopefully see everyone in the same room in the near future.

Wouldn’t it be great to see Randall’s kids interacting with Kevin and Kate’s kids?

In the present-day, we also see Kate and Toby make their way home from the hospital after welcoming Hailey.

However, their car ride is a bit different as they drive Hailey’s birth mother, Ellie, home from the hospital.

Kate was really excited about making plans with Ellie in the future considering their open adoption agreement, but you could tell the whole ordeal was very difficult for Ellie. 

Eventually, she made the conscious decision not to be in Hailey’s life for the time being, and it was valid. She thought she could handle it but upon welcoming her daughter, she realized it wouldn’t be as easy as she thought to let go and watch from a distance. 

Kate’s sadness was also valid as she truly wanted Hailey to have a bond with her birth mom after seeing how difficult it was for Randall to grow up without knowing his birth parents. 

My guess is that Ellie will eventually come around to the idea once she has enough time to process it all and isn’t hurting as much.

Maybe that’s who Randall is referring to in the flash-forward when he says “they’re here” as we see a car pulling up?

Toby also informs Kate that he was laid off, which seems like terrible timing but for the first time ever, Kate doesn’t spiral.

She’s hopeful as she holds her new baby, a baby that she didn’t think was possible based on her earlier diagnosis. 

It’s a moment where she believes they will be okay because they are together. And I hope that’s also the case.

However, it does worry me that maybe this is the beginning of the end for Kate and Toby? What if money and career woes lead to a divorce? It’s been a popular theory as to why they aren’t together in the flash-forward. 

Could Kate and Jack be in the car? Are they with Hailey and Ellie? What’s the deal here?

I can’t wait till we get an episode that gives us just a bit more about the flash-forward scene!

Until then, I’m content knowing that the Pearson family tree continues to flourish.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments! 

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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – Meet the New Big Three (5×08)

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This Is Us Review In the Room Season 5 Episode 8

The new Big Three have arrived.

This Is Us pulling at your heartstrings and making you weep isn’t anything new, but these tears were different because we celebrated the newest members of the Pearson clan – Kevin and Madison’s twins and Toby and Kate’s adopted daughter. 

The episode detailed giving birth during a pretty crazy time in the world: the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized the importance of staying connected through cellphones and the Internet. 

Initially, the scenes of Nasir from India and Esther from Argentina were confusing. I thought they were flashbacks of Miguel’s parents and that we were finally getting some more backstory about the often-overlooked character, but instead, This Is Us paid tribute to a real-life computer researcher responsible for the algorithm that allows all of us, even the Pearsons, to remain connected. 

It’s about time this man got the recognition he deserves during a time where staying connected is so imperative and crucial to our society’s ability to function. 

This man is singlehandedly responsible for giving us the opportunity to be part of important and milestone moments in our loved ones’ lives; he paved the way for a future that you and I take for granted daily. Even now as we watch our favorite show on a Tuesday night!

And while Miguel doesn’t get his time in the sun, Rebecca did thank him for being there for her and the family, which was the most acknowledgment he’s gotten in quite some time. He deserves so much more recognition, but this is a good start. 

With Kate and Madison both welcoming babies at the same time in different hospitals and the family not being able to be there – including Toby who had an elaborate tailgating set-up in the hospital parking lot – connecting with them via video chat after the births was imperative. 

Randall and Beth were on the phone with Madison for hours while Kevin did his best to make it to her. And he did! We never saw how he managed to pull off traveling without an I.D. or how the hospital let him in after he just traveled through an airport, but that’s neither here nor there.  

The point is, he made it for the birth of his twins, and while he was gone, Randall filled in by virtually holding Madison’s hand and telling her drunk Kevin stories. 

Despite everything that happened with these two, Randall remains the best brother who always puts his family first. 

After all the emotions settled a bit, Kevin broached the topic of their big fight, and while it wasn’t the right time to get into detail, at least they’re back on track and have acknowledged that the conversation must be had and apologies must be made.  

Kate’s adoption process made me nervous for a bit because it seemed as though Ellie wasn’t going to hand over the baby. I got worried when she changed her mind and asked to hold her and then asked to be alone with the baby.

Based on Kate’s surprised reaction, she also didn’t know what it meant and was trying to be understanding.

Ellie’s emotional goodbye to her daughter hit me in the feels. One can imagine that giving up your baby is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do, but it’s also so brave of her to acknowledge that she needs to do what’s best for her. 

And Kate meeting baby Hailey was pure bliss. Again, in a time when the world is upside-down and downright scary, there’s nothing more reassuring than looking down at an innocent baby. 

The waterworks also began flowing when Toby decided to give the baby the middle name “Rose” after the ill wife of the man in the parking lot. 

When he mentioned her name and gave Toby a “lucky pig,” it was obvious that Toby would find inspiration for the middle name from their abrupt meeting, but it was still such a genuine moment of human connection — this one in person yet still distanced. 

Also, can we celebrate the fact that Rose got some good news after being diagnosed with COVID? Hospitals are a place where you experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but it was a good night for everyone. 

The flashbacks of Jack and Rebecca at the cabin mulling over how their children no longer wanted to hang out with them fit in perfectly. Sometimes, flashbacks don’t jive with what’s happening in other timelines, but that painting was a reminder to always remain present and never miss a thing even if life gets in the way. 

Rebecca stayed true to that promise. The montage of them making the painting juxtaposed with the current bundles of joy being boy really hit right in the feels. 

And lastly, Kevin paid tribute to Uncle Nicky (and Nic Cage) when he named one of the twins Nicholas. And honestly, good on them for bringing back the Frances. How cute is Franny?

Franny, Nicholas, and Hailey – the new Big Three that will carry on the Pearson legacy. You just know Jack is up there in heaven beaming with pride. 

What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below! 


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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – Kevin’s Journey Home (5×07)

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This Is Us Review There Season 5 Episode 7

 
Kevin had a stroke of bad luck on This Is Us Season 5 Episode 7, but it’s nothing he can’t handle.
 
Over the course of five seasons, Kevin’s character has grown immensely into a strong man who knows exactly what he wants out of life. 
 
And when he found out Madison went into labor six weeks early, he knew that it was more important than his movie with Robert de Niro. I’m not sure I’d go as far as telling the producer to “shut up” or that “no one cares about his movie,” but the moment proves that Kevin is learning that family trumps all. 
 
Wanting to get to Madison on time for the birth is fueled by his desire to be present like his father Jack always was. 
 
Jack may not have always been the best father (though he was pretty great), but he was always there. And that’s half the battle. It’s why Kevin’s so determined to get there on time — he doesn’t want to let Madison down or start off on the wrong foot.
 
Of course, there’s plenty of obstacles in his way including a long drive, no flights, and a car crash. 
 
Yep, This Is Us once again pulled a fast one on us. The trickery! They made us think that Kevin was going to be involved in a car accident, but instead, he was helping someone whose car crashed into a ditch. That’s the most Jack Pearson thing Kevin could have ever done. 
 
Despite rushing to be by his fiancee’s side, he couldn’t just drive by and leave someone hurt and stranded.
 
Throughout the whole episode, Kevin was trying to live up to his father without realizing that he’s already there. The fact that he’s so determined not to let Madison or his twins down is proof that he is Jack Pearsons’s son.
 
Jack was always present in his children’s lives is because he wanted to be and thus, he made it happen. 
 
Jack was fueled by a desire to be better than his old man, while Kevin wants to live up to his old man.
 
The episode featured some flashbacks that strengthened the “father and son” narrative. In both, Jack and Kevin played baseball to impress their dads, but one was not like the other in that Jack didn’t want to be like his father and made choices that were in Kevin’s best interest.

THIS IS US — “There” Episode 507 — Pictured in this screengrab: Chrissy Metz as Kate — (Photo by: NBC)

 
The first flashback found a young Jack headed to a Little League game with his drunk of a father, who berates him for losing the game and forces him to drive them home. The whole experience is miserable for him, which makes him want to do better in the future. 
 
In a second flashback sequence, Jack takes a young Kevin to baseball camp where he sees Kevin throw up from the pressure and learns that his coach calls him stupid almost on a daily basis. This really resonates with Jack since it reminds him of the emotional abuse he endured from his dad, and he realizes he’s repeating his father’s mistakes. 
 
Back in the present, Kevin takes a detour to drop off the man at the hospital and arrives at the airport in time to make his flight when he hits another snag — he lost his wallet. 
 
And no I.D. means no flight. 
 
At this point, he’s desperate, and I don’t blame him. How much can one man endure while trying to do the right thing? The guilt of leaving Madison to film the movie in Vancouver is already eating him up. And he hasn’t even dealt with the possible destruction of his career, which is low on the totem pole at this point. 
 
Kevin’s impassioned speech to the TSA agent is sweet even if he does pull the “I’m Kevin Pearson” card. Hey, I guess there’s no better time to use your fame to your advantage than when you’re trying to make it home for the birth of your twins. 
 
However, it’s unclear if Kevin’s powers of persuasion were effective. I’m going to go with no considering that the TSA agent, who may be moved by his story, likely cannot do anything or bend the rules for anyone since it’s a security risk. But we’ll see what happens.
 
I thought I’d get through this episode without crying, but ha, jokes on me! When Randall called Madison just as the reality of delivering the babies herself set in, my tears just started flowing.
 
Randall, who was on his way from meeting Hai and learning all about his birth mother, Laurel, realized just how hard Kevin was taking this moment and stepped in to be there for Madison on behalf of his brother. Again, it’s a very Jack Pearson thing to do. Even though he died while they were young, he had such a profound effect on them. 
 
It was a truly touching moment that officially welcomed Madison into the family. 
 
Kate was unfortunately not available because she was also welcoming a new member of the family as Ellie went into labor. Three new Pearsons are arriving at the same time. It’s almost like history repeating itself!
 
What did you think of the episode? Are you glad Kevin is okay? Do you think he’ll make it? Sound off in the comments below! 
 


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