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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – Randall’s Birth Story (5×06)

THIS IS US -- "Birth Mother" Episode 506 -- Pictured in this screen grab: (l-r) Sterling K. Brown as Randall, Susan Kelechi Watson as Beth, Vien Hong as Hai Lang -- (Photo by: NBC)

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Things may change, but the one thing that remains the same is that This Is Us continues to make us sob every Tuesday. 

The story of Randall’s birth mother, Laurel Dubois, was one of season 5’s strongest and most profound episodes due to its impeccable storytelling. 

For years, Randall has struggled with his sense of identity, which has caused him pain and anxiety. 

Meeting William eased that anxiety a bit, but it still didn’t paint a full picture for Randall as he never truly got to know his mother… until Hai filled in the missing pieces.

And wow, I did not know how badly I needed to know Laurel’s story because it was equally as fascinating as it was tragic. Leave it to This Is Us to pull off dedicating a whole hour to someone we’ve never met and managing to captivate audiences as if we’ve known them forever. 

Given the little that we knew about Laurel from William, I went into the episode with certain expectations but was instead, blown away by the experiences in her life.

Laurel came from the most distinguished family in New Orleans, which meant that she was under a lot of pressure to be perfect.

That pressure compounded into her rebellion. The first was her “forbidden” love affair with the Vietnamese fisherman while she was set to be married to a “dud” named Marcel. Surprisingly, their romance was even sweeter than Laurel and William’s. And while it wouldn’t be realistic to call Laurel lucky in life, she was lucky to have found love not once but twice.

I especially loved that Laurel and Hai’s relationship blossomed despite the language barrier proving that love knows no bounds, race, or color. This Is Us excels in writing diverse stories that are touching and relatable. 

Her second act of rebellion kickstarted her journey to Pittsburgh and her chapter with William.

While the story definitely gave off The Notebook vibes, Hai warned us that it was far from it. And the second half of the story took quite a heartbreaking turn after Laurel overdosed on drugs while self-medicating after giving birth. 

This Is Us Review Birth Mother Season 5 Episode 6

THIS IS US — “Birth Mother” Episode 506 — Pictured in this screen grab: (l-r) Jennifer C. Holmes as Laurel, Anthony Hill as Marshall Winston — (Photo by: NBC)

Laurel was a victim of a broken system that we continue to see destroy lives to this day. It also serves as a good argument for decriminalizing minor drug offenses and increasing the need for treatment and recovery services. 

Instead of being offered help with her addiction, which falls under the category of mental health issues, she was punished and taken to prison. The nurse’s disgusting comments about her being a junkie and a bad mother were infuriating, but sadly, representative of what everyone else thought of her.

And at her lowest, she was kicked down even further with a five-year sentence despite it being her first offense, which likely had to do with her skin color. 

Due to these circumstances, Laurel never had a fighting chance of finding her son or letting William know she was alive. 

While hearing Laurel’s story is heartbreaking, it’s also comforting for Randall to learn that his mother loved him and wanted him. She was always such a huge question mark in his life, and when he learned that she died just a few years ago of cancer and not in 1980, he wondered why she never came looking for him. 

The devastating answer is that she wanted to, but she couldn’t. 

Laurel may not have been able to tell her son her story, but Hai was, and that was the next best thing.

The story came full circle as Randall was able to let go of the pain in the same way Laurel did all those years prior thanks to the guidance of Aunt Mae, one of the only people who ever understood her and accepted her for who she was — imperfections and all. 

Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Randall seeing his mother’s ghost in the water as it seemed like a bit of a stretch for the series. I would have preferred to see him simply go into the lake alone and scream it out at the top of his lungs, though, in retrospect, I can see why it was a poetic moment that offered up some much-needed closure.

Or maybe it was a side-effect of that absinthe?

Also, does NBC stand for Naked Booty Club now? If you know, you know. 

With a weight lifted off Randall’s shoulders, This Is Us embraced a more uplifting tone, which can only mean one thing: something bad is around the corner.

And that was underscored by Randall’s statement about life being too short to focus on the bad.

When Randall called him, Kevin was frazzled as he was speeding to be by Madison’s side after she went into (early?) labor with the twins. And while nothing happened in those final moments, the teaser trailer for the upcoming episode reveals our concerns were valid as Kevin’s car ends up totaled on the side of the road. 

It was so predictable and that’s slightly disappointing since it’s not what we’ve come to expect from the series. However, I have faith that the writers have a larger plan! 

Flash-forwards have revealed that Kevin survives, but this is definitely not the kind of stress Madison needs while she’s in labor! 

Is the accident as bad as it seems? How will it impact him? Will it influence his decision to give up his career and be there for Madison and the twins? Will he prioritize family moving forward?

Sound off in the comments and let us know what you thought about the episode!


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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 – Manny Put a Ring On It (5×12)

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This Is Us Both Things Can Be True Review Season 5 Episode 12

There were plenty of great heart-to-heart’s on This Is Us Season 5 Episode 12.

The series brilliantly touches on all those feelings and emotions buried deep within us while simultaneously having everything come full circle in all the various timelines.

An episode where character and plot development is achieved solely through words is difficult, but “Both Things Can Be True” did a magnificent job. There weren’t any jaw-dropping moments or cliffhangers — everything was fueled by a basic human experience.

As Kevin and Madison were planning their wedding in the present-day timeline, Jack was planning on proposing to Rebecca in the past.

 Miguel was involved in the planning of both events as Jack’s best friend and currently, Kevin’s step-dad aka Rebecca’s husband. 

While we’ve all accepted Miguel’s role in the Pearsons’ life, it wasn’t an easy pill for Nicky to swallow. As they teamed up for rehearsal dinner planning, Nicky made a few tasteless and backhanded comments towards Miguel that were just plain ugly. 

Now, we know Nicky’s a tough cookie and can be quite cynical, but it was still uncalled for and awkward. Most importantly, Miguel didn’t deserve it. He’s been treated like the show’s villain for far too long when he’s only ever sacrificed everything for this family!

Eventually, Miguel stood up for himself and explained that the only person that he owes an explanation is the one man he can’t give it to. And while we won’t ever know what Jack would have said about Miguel marrying Rebecca, I think it’s safe to say that he would’ve been grateful that someone stepped in to take care of his wife and kids upon his death.

Miguel was there to help Rebecca through her grief and now, he’s there as she deals with new struggles surrounding the early stages of Alzheimer’s. In a way, he’s kept Jack alive for Rebecca, and, in turn, Rebecca has kept Jack alive for Miguel.

Miguel has been there through everything as we saw him help Jack plan the perfect proposal for Rebecca. The same energy he had towards Nicky he also had towards Rebecca’s father in the past, who finally returned Jack’s calls and told him he’d “tolerate” the union. 

We all need a friend like Miguel, who vouched for Jack’s character and made sure Rebecca’s dad knew that she was lucky to find a guy like Jack Pearson. Jack puts all the other men to shame, so tell ’em, Miguel. 

Nicky’s actions were a result of his jealousy as he felt that Miguel replaced him in Jack’s life, but Miguel always knew that Jack wanted his brother around for the big day. While that never happened, it’s heartwarming that they are able to be there for Jack’s son. 

Another unexpected heart-to-heart happened between Toby and Madison. Toby may be struggling with this whole “stay-at-home” dad thing, but I’m digging his new role, especially if it means we get more screentime bonding between these two. 

Toby and Madison were both bottling up things from their partners. Madison didn’t want to get married at some luxurious venue that Kevin and his publicist dreamt up, while Toby wasn’t loving staying home with the kids and not having a full-time job. 

Madison came around and told Kevin the truth, and I love how receptive he was to her concerns. Kevin really just wants to make Madison happy, and if that means they get married at a garden that reminds her of her trip to Japan, so be it. 

In fact, seeing all of Kevin’s exes see the big engagement news in the tabloids and smile shows that he’s made a positive impact on all of them despite making a few missteps here and there. You can’t help but be happy that Kevin found “the one” and settled down!

Toby, on the other hand, didn’t confront his feelings head-on or tell Kate the truth likely because he saw how happy she was after her first day helping blind children discover their love of music. It says a lot about Toby as he’s willing to put his happiness on hold for Kate, but I hope it doesn’t lead to any resentment. 

Both of them deserve to pursue their dreams, and he should be able to talk to her about it without thinking he’s going to strip her of her happiness. 

This Is Us Both Things Can Be True Review Season 5 Episode 12

THIS IS US — “Both Things Can Be True” Episode 512 — Pictured in this screengrab: Eris Baker as Tess — (Photo by: NBC)

However, it’s nice to see Kate finally have something for herself. We’ve seen her struggle with finding a fulfilling career path for so long, so this is a welcome change of pace. 

Her anxieties about leaving behind two young children and her husband were also warranted and showcase the struggle many working moms encounter upon returning to the workforce.

Philip was difficult to deal with and didn’t show any grace towards Kate’s situation, which is also all too common in the workplace, but in a way, I’m glad that Kate was held to a higher standard and proved that she was the right fit for the job despite all of her internal battles. 

Once Philip finally accepts that Kate is his new co-worker and good at her job, I think they’ll get along fairly well! 

It’s just as important to show Kate’s struggle of going back to work as it is to show Toby’s struggle of staying at home. Stay-at-home dads and working moms are much more commonplace these days, and the feelings they have are valid. 

Randall attended a transracial therapy group, and though he didn’t share his story, he connected with other people’s experiences. 

He seemed to particularly connect with the woman who revealed that she wished that she was never adopted, and that pains me. 

With those feelings surfacing for Randall, I’m concerned about his big talk with Kevin that’s supposed to clear the air between them. 

It’s one thing for Randall to share his experiences about being adopted into a white family and sharing his experiences of finding his birth parents, but I don’t think Kevin would take it lightly if he heard that Randall wished he was never a Pearson in the first place. 

I truly hope it doesn’t take that route because things may get messy.

However, it’s also illuminating to explore all emotions and feelings adopted children have faced and the guilt they’ve felt for wanting to know where they come from without hurting those who have been there for them.

It’s a tricky line to walk, but again, it’s important that these stories get told! The series has done an incredible job with Randall’s adoption storyline as it’s so layered and filled with opportunities to dig deeper and explore the character. 

And lastly, Beth was trying her best to be there and accepting of Tess when she invited Alex over.

Using the proper pronouns was the least of her worries, though. 

Beth didn’t realize just how affected she was by Tess’s relationship until she was called out on it. 

It wasn’t right of Tess to call her mom a psycho, so I’m glad Beth nipped that behavior immediately, but she also realized that she needed to adjust to the new reality instead of the one she has envisioned for her daughter. 

It’s an important step for both of them, and though Tess may have felt hurt and alienated, Beth is doing her best to be there for her and support her in every way that she can.

We know Beth’s heart, and we know that it had nothing to do with Tess.

But the open-door policy should apply just as much to Tess and Alex as it does to Deja and Malik. It’s only fair. 

Beth’s exploration of her subconscious feelings also led to an important conversation with her own mother. 

Their situation may be different, but Beth is realizing that her mother also struggled with letting go and adjusting to her daughter’s chosen lifestyle, which is what caused a rift between them in the first place. 

It’s nice to see these mothers and daughters be vulnerable and honest as they make up for lost time and right the wrongs of the past. 

Being a mom is hard, and you don’t realize just how difficult the task is until you become a mother yourself. 

What did you think of the episode?

What was your favorite moment? Let us know in the comments below!


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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – Family Dinners (5×10)

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This Is Us Review - I've Got This Season 5 Episode 10

Dinner is never really just dinner, is it?

When you’re not arguing about politics, you’re getting into it about money woes and feeling judged by your mother, who has overstayed her welcome.

Three dinners took place during the course of This Is Us Season 5 Episode 10, and none of them went off without a hitch. 

In the past, Jack attended a dinner with Miguel and the big wigs at his firm in hopes of getting a promotion to support his family of three newborns. Unfortunately, the evening didn’t go as planned and instead of being treated to a meal and drinks, he ended up having to pay the $230 tab after throwing his car down in a credit card roulette. 

Look, $230 nowadays is a lot for one person with expenses to put down, but in those days, it was a fortune. 

My advice for next time? Splitsies four ways and everyone pays for what they ordered! 

While the Pearson family didn’t come from money, the fact that the children never noticed or never felt the stress of not having enough money just speaks to how great Rebecca and Jack were as parents.

And it informed Kate and Kevin’s experiences in the present-day as the former found her family struggling financially after Toby was laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I love that This Is Us is showcasing the struggles plenty of Americans are going through right now. 

Not everyone is as fortunate as Kevin to get paid loads of money for a gig, but it also doesn’t mean that they are less-than. Kevin’s intentions were pure, I know. He genuinely wanted to be there for his family and help his brother out during a tough time, but it’s understandable that it would make Toby feel inadequate and like he can’t take care of his family. 

Toby, much like so many others who are now unemployed, lost his job and has been stuck in the vicious cycle of remote and impersonal interviews. Getting a job nowadays is difficult, and it’s absolutely not a reflection of the person or their skill; it’s just a reality. 

He’ll land on his feet eventually, but it’s great for a show to tackle the very real situation that’s affecting so many families. 

While Toby didn’t want things to fall onto Kate, I think it’s great that she’s found a job that she wants to pursue. Working mothers are the backbone of America, and there’s no shame in having her be the breadwinner for a bit while he gets back on his feet. 

This Is Us Review - I've Got This Season 5 Episode 10

THIS IS US — “I’ve Got This” Episode 510 — Pictured in this screengrab: (l-r) Lyric Ross as Deja, Asante Blackk as Malik, Faithe Herman as Annie, Susan Kelechi Watson as Beth, Eris Baker as Tess, Phylicia Rashad as Carol, Sterling K. Brown as Randall — (Photo by: NBC)

Toby has always supported Kate, and it’s awesome that she wants to return the favor. 

Plus, the job as a teaching assistant at Jack’s music school seems like the perfect fit for Kate. She’s always wanted to find something that she could call her own, and it looks like things are finally falling into place. 

You know what they say — when one door closes, another opens, even if it might not be exactly what Toby envisioned.

Kevin seems to be thriving in his dad role, but according to the last few episodes, he kind of burned a few bridges with the directors of his latest film. 

Is this going to take a toll on his career? He may have all the funds to have a nanny and dream up a Malibu compound now, but if he’s leaving acting behind, what does that truly mean for the future?

Nicky’s back… and the fact that he braved his first flight to come and visit Kevin and his children is just the sweetest thing. 

Kevin’s always been a family man, and it’s awesome that he’ll be able to share his new bundles of joy with the man that’s the closest connection to his dad! 

As for Randall and Beth’s dinner, well, their house is chaotic in the best possible way. 

Beth thought her mom was judging her based on how her kids behaved, but it was actually Beth who was casting the judgment on herself. 

Her mother was just happy to be a part of the action. 

Sometimes, as children, we always think we’re not living up to our mother’s expectations, but our mothers just want to spend some quality time with the family. 

When Beth realized that her mother decided to extend her stay because she was lonely at home, she invited her to stay with them indefinitely. 

For audiences, it’s a plus because Phylicia Rashad is a blessing and a half. But Beth probably should’ve run it by Randall first. 

Though, she did have a fair point that she’s always accomodating when it comes to his family. She can have this moment!

Deja and Randall’s bond is adorable. They’ve been through the highs and lows together, but it’s sweet to see her acknowledge that Randall is the only person who has ever been #TeamDeja from the beginning.

I’m glad she didn’t hold a grudge against him for helping Malik though because Malik realized the same thing Deja did — Randall is a stand-up guy who gives great advice. 

He’s become a father figure to them both, and his advice carries more weight as he’s someone who grew up without knowing his birth parents. 

At the end of the day, there’s something to be said for allowing your child to get to know their birth mother. However, Malik’s reservations are valid as Jennifer and her family weren’t supportive and didn’t want to be in this child’s life at first. He also has to be careful that allowing her back into his child’s life doesn’t do more harm than good. 

Obviously, everyone deserves a second chance, but not everyone makes the most of that second chance, so I wouldn’t let her fully in just yet. 

I also wonder if it’ll strain Deja and Malik’s relationship moving forward. They’re only 15, so the chances of them making it till the end (or at the very least those flash-forward episodes) are slim, but it’s a sweet sentiment.

The Pearson clan has gotten significantly bigger as everyone embraces their new chapters with their respective families, but Jack and Rebecca’s influence continues as they now tackle the parental roles with the same grace and love. 

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 – 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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