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This Is Us

This Is Us – The Pool (1×04)

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We watched Rebecca struggle to be a mom to three 8-year-olds on this week’s This Is Us. 

A broken A/C forced the whole family to head out for a pool day that was anything but relaxing. We saw each of the three siblings go off the deep end as their dealt with their personal struggles, back in the 70s and in the present. It really is interesting to see how your past affects your future and how much of it is influenced by your parents.

At the pool, Rebecca can’t catch a break. Kate is a little thicker than most of the other girls her age but she’s young and innocent and doesn’t think it’s a problem. Unfortunately, other kids are mean, something Rebecca knows all too well. When Kate tries to play with the “skinny” girls, they leave her a note saying they don’t want to hang out with her because she “embarrasses them.”

Those insecurities introduced to little Kate have been with her through her whole life. Since we’ve met adult Kate, we’ve seen her struggle with her weight and not accepting that she’s what society would call fat. She’s dating Toby, who she met at fat camp, and he tries to change the focus but since it’s always been a part of her, she can’t seem to shake it. That becomes even more true when she finds out his ex-wife is a smokin’ hot skinny babe. Why does Toby want to date me she wonder? After obsessing about her Facebook page, she walks into her boutique and pretends she’s there for a job interview. Surprisingly, she finds that Josie is actually a really nice person who was able to look past her weight.

Of course when she tells Toby, he flips a shit. When he tells her she looks good, she doesn’t believe him, but when she gets reaffirmation form a skinny woman, she’s sold. Seeing that Kate won’t back down, Toby breaks the news – Josie treated him horribly. She lied to him, she cheated on him, she left him causing him to gain almost 100 pounds and become sort of suicidal. Despite what Kate believes, the fact that she was “skinny” didn’t make her a better person. And yes, he would choose Kate over Josie any day. Thank god this woman has him in her life!

Back in the past, Rebecca freaks out when she looses sight of Randall. She finds him hanging out with all the African America’s and is upset. One of the mothers tries to tell her that it is okay but Rebecca makes it seem like she doesn’t want her boy hanging out on the “black side.”

The moment is very sensitive for many reasons. We know Rebecca isn’t a racist because if she was, she’d never have adopted Randall. But she has absolutely NO IDEA what it takes to raise a black boy. How could she? It’s nothing she’s ever known. So she’s trying her best and in the moment, she felt like she was being talked to in a condescending manner when in fact, the woman was just trying to help. When Rebecca realized that Randall really did want to be around people who were “more like him,” she went back and asked the woman for some help. I sense a good friendship here!

Randall’s problems of feeling “white” carry over into the present. He’s a successful black man, living in a white community. His biological father goes for a walk in the neighborhood and gets confronted because someone claims he’s loitering. This is what innocent black men have to go through. Randall apologizes and immediately sees his father’s judgement. Sure his dad isn’t perfect but he did fight for African American rights and integration’s in schools – what does he think of Randall.

In a very powerful moment, Randall explains that he’s not immune to being black and being treated like a black man just because his adopted parents are white. He goes through the same motions, just lets them go because they aren’t worth his battle. It’s really eye-opening to see him in this light, acknowledging the racial injustices based solely on his skin color, when his whole childhood experience was the same as his white families.

That leads to a beautiful moment between him and William. He calls him son, apologizes for abandoning him and even tells him he’s proud of the way he’s raised his two daughters, who thought there was NOTHING wrong with being cast as Snow White in the play.

As for Kevin, his feeling of being “not good enough” also stemmed from his childhood. During that pool day, Kevin tried everything to have his father notice him but both of his parents were too preoccupied with keeping Kate’s weight under control and making sure Randall felt like a real part of the family. When he ventured to the deep end and almost drowned, he was furious that no one even noticed. (And seriously, where were the lifeguards, hello?!)

Knowing that, it’s no surprise that Kevin always needs his siblings around for reaffirmation. He calls Kate at least 15 times a day so she can tell him how great he is. But this time, Kate’s dealing with her own demons and he’s all alone in New York, headed to his first theatrical play audition, which goes horrible, horrible bad. His reading partner invites him out for a drink and gives him some “friendly” advice which can be summarized as “go back to LA pretty boy and get some training if you’re serious about this.” But right as she’s finished speaking, she realizes the world is cruel cause Kevin got the part only because the director’s think his “Manny” fame will sell tickets. It’s a cold world we live in.

So Kevin packs up his bags and pays his brother Randall a little visit. Everyone is pretty shocked to see him but not as shocked he is to find out William has been staying with him. Maybe if he wasn’t so self-absorbed, he would have known that? He really doesn’t get off the hook just because I know his parents did give him all their attention.

Who knew one day at the pool could be so enlightening? After all of that though, Rebecca finally got to finish her book and it was far from “Misery” as everyone fell asleep on top of each other, tired from the days activities. No matter what how bad things get, you’ll never be lost or alone with family.

Now seriously, where is Jack in the present day? We haven’t seen him, there’s been no mention of him. I’m really hoping that my theory of him dying in the line of duty at work isn’t true…


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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 – Childhood Traumas in the Present Day (5×04)

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This Is Us Review Honestly Season 5 Episode 4

This Is Us delivered some truly great moments on “Honestly,” which is a good thing as this episode is supposed to hold us over until January 5, 2021. 

It doesn’t seem fair that we had to wait almost all of 2020 for new episodes only to be given four and then forced to wait again, but maybe, like Kevin, we have to learn to tough it. 

That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. 

The Big Three continued to struggle with their past traumas that affected them into adulthood. 

In the past, we see Rebecca and Jack struggling to sleep train Kevin, who wakes up crying every night. Jack assures Rebecca they have to let him cry it out, but she can’t fathom letting her child “suffer.”

Her behavior carries over into their pre-teen years as Kevin struggles with his team as the quarterback of the football team. 

Rebecca isn’t a helicopter in the same way we see modern-day parents, but she’s definitely always ready to step in to make life easier for Kevin, which isn’t helping them or teaching him any grit. 

But that’s the great thing we see in Kevin when he’s an adult. Instead of backing down when things get tough, he pushes even harder. 

Seeing him use his notecards in the present — a method Randall taught him when he was younger and struggling to memorize plays — was heartwarming. 

They may not be talking right now, but they’ve impacted each other’s lives in major ways. 

Seeing Kevin navigate his own path to success also proves that sometimes, it’s okay to let your kids figure it out for themselves.

The director seemed to come into the reading with a preconceived notion about Kevin, which wasn’t fair to him. I’m wondering if he didn’t like Kevin’s performance or wasn’t pleased that Kevin was cast?

Either way, it’s fantastic that Kevin didn’t just give up or lose his temper. I hope he blows the director away. 

And maybe this is the push to truly break out in his career with a performance that’s “less tired.”

Fingers-crossed he gets that Oscar-moment with Rebecca! 

Randall saw himself in Malik, who was shadowing him in his City Council position for a school class. 

Malik committed the biggest flub when he didn’t turn off the live stream and accidentally broadcast Randall’s striptease dance to everyone in Philly and beyond. 

Note to self: always double-check a stream is off, especially with Zoom meetings. 

The situation seemed rough initially, and Randall was pretty hard on Malik, a few good things came out of it. 

First, Randall got to know Malik on a deeper level and realized that Deja’s boyfriend is a standup and ambitious kid. 

Malik explained his tiredness by giving Randall the tea – he wakes up at 5 a.m. to take care of his daughter and puts her needs before his own. 

That being said, he’s still trying to make something of himself as he wants to go to an Ivy League school, open up a restaurant and become the first Michelin-starred place in Philly. 

You’ve got to admire the drive and the hustle in a young kid like that. He has his head on right, and Randall recognizes himself in Malik, which is why he gave him that internship even after the live stream flub. 

This bromance may be the best thing to happen in 2020!

The other good thing to come out of it is that it’ll bring Randall closer to his birth mother… or at least his birth mother’s boyfriends/husband.

Going viral on the Internet meant that the Japanese man from This Is Us Season 5 Episode 3 saw the clip and heard Randall talk about his birth father William Hill.

The series is drawing this storyline out, but it seems like they’ve got big plans and it’ll be worth it. 

There were moments when the series made it seem like she was still alive, but if she’s not, at least maybe Randall will be able to learn more about her by connecting with someone who knew her well. 

Also, it’s great that Randall and his family have such a great sense of humor and can laugh about the whole ordeal. It’s even better that the angle of the camera was really great and Randall looked that good! 

Kate’s adoption storyline took a somber note when she confronted her past demons and vocalized them to Toby for the first time ever. 

The series circled-back to her tumultuous relationship with Mark and revealed some interesting things about their explosive breakup.

At first glance, it seems like Kate found out that she was pregnant with Mark’s baby and possibly aborted it.

However, upon closer inspection, in the scene, Kate is actually holding an ovulation test, which would indicate that she wanted a baby with Mark. 

This Is Us/ NBC

Obviously, that’s troublesome for many reasons considering Mark was toxic and treated her poorly. 

Did she stay home from New York to try to get pregnant with him? Did she succeed? 

Did she give the baby up for adoption? There are so many avenues the series can take here. My mind is spinning and jumping to the most outrageous conclusion that Ellie is Kate’s daughter.

If Kate hypothetically had a child at 18 and she’s now 40, that would mean Ellie would be around 22, so I don’t think my outlandish theory holds true because she seems significantly olderm but then again, they never confirmed Ellie’s age either. How crazy would that be?!

All of this makes watching Kate’s journey to motherhood that much more emotional. I can’t wait to see how the series ties it all together.

I’m also a bit peeved we haven’t seen the last of Mark because he was such a tool!

This Is Us continues pulling the rug right from under us. We may think we know these characters as well as we know ourselves, but there are still so many moments in their lives we’ve yet to explore. 

Lastly, may we all have a Jack Pearson role model in our lives who wants us to know he sees our greatness. Even though Jack had his flaws, it’s moments like these where you truly appreciate all he’s done for the Pearson clan. 


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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – I’m Going Through Changes (5×03)

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This Is Us Changes Review 5x03

Parenting is hard. 

That’s the key takeaway on This Is Us Season 5 Episode 3. 

Even the best, most connected parents like Rebecca and Jack missed so many things when it came to Randall, Kevin, and Kate. 

In the past, the scenes explore how moments in their childhood shaped who they are in the present-day. 

In the present-day, we see the Big Three dealing with their own fears and struggling with parenthood. 

Randall and Beth learn that Tess has been making mock videos online to stand up for herself. On one hand, Randall finds it admirable that his teen daughter has a better grasp of her self-identity than he does at the age of 40. However, he and Beth both agree that her actions need to be punished. 

While it may not seem like it to Tess at the moment, there’s a way about evoking change and making a statement. Unfortunately, telling your teacher “screw you” on the Internet — where things live forever, is not the right way. 

It’s an interesting moment, nevertheless, that allows the audience to get a deeper look into Tess’s teenage years.

It also proves that no matter how much parents try, children will carve out their own path, which is a lesson Kevin and Madison could use about now. 

Their breakfast interactions were very, polite, for lack of a better word, and it was clear that they were both putting on a front to make this new-age engagement work. 

But the truth is, neither of them was really being honest and upfront about who they were. They were tiptoeing around reality, which is no way to go about life. 

Madison, who we know struggled with an eating disorder her whole life, was triggered by Kevin’s excessive working out, his rock hard abs that he puts fully on display, and the fact that he skipped breakfast and stated he would be going on a diet for his upcoming role. 

For Madison, these were all reminders of her bulimia, but she couldn’t even blame Kevin for it because he didn’t know this side of her. 

She also assumed that Kevin was behaving confidently when, in fact, these were all signs of Kevin’s own insecurities that he’s built up since he was a pre-teen hitting puberty. 

Kevin has always put his worth in his looks, but that stems from his very own addictions and eating disorders. 

It serves as a reminder not to judge a book by its cover because we never know what someone else is going through. 

When Madison and Kevin began to open up, a true relationship and trust was established between them. Madison even confessed that she’s the type of girl who goes to conventions for her favorite TV show. The horror!

The truth is, Madison isn’t the kind of girl audiences would have envisioned for Kevin, but she’s exactly who he needs. And vice-versa. It’s nice to see them pull back the curtains and be real, especially Kevin, who has always lived up to this image he’s concocted in his own mind.

Kevin’s body image issues were also rooted in his daddy issues, and we learn that he’s been hitting the dingy garage gym because that’s where he bonded with Jack. 

Jack tries to help his son bulk up for the school football team and takes him to the garage to “pump some iron” as his old man did. Unlike his dad, however, Jack tries to make the lifting session inspiring, but the effects seem to be one and the same. 

On his quest for a therapist, Randall pinpoints a memory from his young adult life that may have shaped his future and sense of self. 

It’s a rather cringe-worthy moment as Kate’s friend, Tanya, tries to make a move on Randall by puckering up with root beer flavored chapstick, which is only made worse when she utters this line when Randall refuses: “I always wondered what it would be like to kiss someone like you.” 

Well, that’s a buzzkill. 

It’ll be interesting to see Randall unpack that with the therapist, Vance, as it may have something to do with his decision to marry a strong, confident Black woman. After all, in his brief chat with the therapist, he went out of his way to emphasize that his wife was Black as if he had something to prove. 

There’s always the thought that Vance is somehow related to Randall through his mother, especially as Randall points out that they’re “very similar” when talking to Beth. Introducing Vance’s daughter, April, could just be an innocent and cute moment, but we know that’s never the case with This Is Us. 

Fans were scratching their heads with the interlude of a Vietnamese grandfather and granddaughter fishing. The scenes may have been frustrating as they were thrown in randomly throughout the episode, but again, nothing is ever random. In the final scene, the cute young girl Lin asks her grandfather if he cooks for the woman in all of the pictures to impress her. He nods and the camera pans to a photograph showing the grandfather with Randall’s mother! 

It doesn’t give us much to work with, but it means that answers about Randall’s birth mother are coming — and yes, it seems like she survived. 

Could this scene somehow be related to the scene with Vance? Time will tell. 

Lastly, there was Kate and Toby, who met with a potential birth mother and hoped to make a good impression. It seemed like things went well with Ellie, despite their little squabble about diapers. I agree with Ellie that seeing how a couple bounces back from a fight is a good assessment of their marriage. 

Through flashforwards, we know that Kate and Toby eventually adopt a daughter, but will it be Ellie’s daughter?

Or will she realize she wants to keep her child from a one-night stand? Also, leave it to This Is Us to make every single storyline heartbreaking, even Ellie’s backstory of why she’s giving up the child (her husband died of cancer, it took her a long time to move on, and when she finally agreed to a date, she had a fling and ended up pregnant).

What did you think of the episode?

Are you excited about the new possibilities for the Big Three?

Which storyline excites you most? Let us know in the comments below.


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Is Randall’s Birth Mother His New Therapist on ‘This Is Us’ Season 5? Here’s What the Writers Said

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This Is Us Theory About Randall's Mother

For several seasons, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) has struggled navigating life as a Black man raised in a white family. 

Tensions really escalated when he found out that his adoptive mother, Rebecca Pearson, had known his biological father, William, his entire life and kept him a secret despite knowing how much he wanted information on his biological family. 

After years of dealing with identity and anxiety issues, Randall eventually went to therapy to deal with the stress brought on by his mother’s illness, his run for City Council, and the burglarization of his home.

There’s a stigma that follows seeking out therapy, especially when it comes to Black men, so Randall’s decision was bold and important. 

It wasn’t easy at first to open up, but eventually, the therapist was able to break through his tough exterior. When This Is Us Season 5 premiered, Randall seemed in a much better place mentally — the tremors were gone! — as he continued virtual therapy amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

He also dealt with racial relations brought on by yet another heinous murder of a Black man in America prompting protests known as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Important and difficult conversations were had with his family, specifically Kate, which led him to realize that he needed to change therapists. 

While he initially made the conscious decision to pursue a therapist that was a white woman, just like adoptive mother, as he grew more secure in his identity, he realized he needed someone that he could fully open up with and not hide the “Black parts” from.

He needed a Black therapist.

Randall’s realization happens at the same time as the shocking twist that his biological mother, Laurel, (who audiences thought died shortly after birth due to an overdose) was actually resuscitated and likely survived. 

This Is Us is such a meticulously planned show that the writers managed to weave in COVID and BLM into an episode so organically that it was impossible for the audience to tell when or how it was altered. It just fit. 

So, there’s reason to believe that the timing of Randall’s decision and the reveal that his mother may be alive isn’t an accident. 

What if his new therapist is his biological mother? It’s a popular theory and one that the This Is Us writers already debunked, but should we believe them? 

It’s possible that she’s either too old to still be practicing or no longer alive. 

However, that doesn’t mean Randall’s new therapist isn’t a long-lost brother or sister that he didn’t know about?

There has to be some connection. 

Randall has always sought out answers about his biological family, who he is, and where he comes from. Even after meeting William and mending things with him, Randall continues to have a void because he never knew his biological mother. His “mommy issues” stem from the abandonment (which we now know wasn’t intentional as he was wanted) by his biological mom and the deception by his adoptive mother.

For a show centered around family and the importance of family, it would only make sense for them to pursue this avenue and allow Randall to further explore his background on a deeper level.

What do you think, Cravers? If Randall’s mom isn’t the therapist, how does this storyline play into Randall’s overall arc?


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