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Six Life lessons from This is Us

For those unfamiliar with This Is Us, it is basically a feels fest from start to finish.

Without giving anything away, this is a story about an ensemble set of characters who share the same birthday, but their paths cross and their life stories intertwine in the most unexpected way.

It is truly one of the most emotional and heartfelt stories I’ve seen in quite some time. And with a story about their lives, it is only fitting that I delve into life lessons that I’ve picked up along the journey through season one. Warning: so many spoilers.

1. The nuclear family no longer exists

Look, we all know that family can sometimes be unconventional. In the most conventional sense, family has a mother and father of the same race and around the same age, who get married, have a house and two and a half kids. That’s the dream. But family is anything but conventional.

This is Us follows the story of an imperfect Caucasian couple who are expecting triplets but the mother, Rebecca (Many Moore) suffers complications during the birth and they ultimately lose a baby.

The father, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) sees an African American baby boy that is brought to the hospital, abandoned at a fire station, and adopts the baby. The Big Three is still the Big Three. This is now their family.

Throughout their lives they have to deal with racial stigma and having to learn how to live their lives as a family that is anything but how they imagined. If ever there was a perfect example of how families are no longer what we expect them to be. But that does not make them any less perfect.

2. Traditions are important

In order to make their three kids feel loved, they bring them up in a loving environment where they always make the best of every situation, including that one time they got stuck in the middle of nowhere on Thanksgiving, hiked to a motel, watched Police Academy 3, and most importantly, spent it with each other.

This tradition, many years later, still lives on as they come together to go on a hike, watch the same movie, and tell the story of Pilgrim Rick to their kids, just like their father did with them.

This taught me a lesson that despite the arguments, the bad blood and fallouts, traditions need to remain to show us that family always comes first.

3. Nobody’s perfect

As kids, the Big Three had their fair share of drama. As adults, nothing much has changed. Kate (Chrissy Metz) battles to lose weight and lacks confidence, Kevin (Justin Hartley) struggles to be taken seriously and stereotyped as the actor with a pretty face and nothing else to offer.

Randall (Sterling K. Brown) strives for perfection in every aspect of his life as a means of over compensating for feeling out of place. This is some real deep shit.

4. Family can hurt you the most

When Randall finds out that his mother lied to him about knowing his father and that she could have brought him into his life at an early age, this for me was a massive turning point in the series.

It showed me that family, even with the best intentions, can make mistakes and hurt those closest to them. Randall unsurprisingly harbours resentment towards his mother as a result.

This was a massive lesson because I understood where Rebecca was coming from. She did not want to introduce William (Ron Cephas Jones) to Randall because she was scared her son would want to leave.

She told herself that Randall would be better off with them but she thought mostly of herself and not that Randall needed to meet his father. This is important to him and leads him to find his father on his own.

What Rebecca did can be seen as unforgivable but this is family.

5. Sometimes you have to move on

One of the biggest revelations in season one is when we find out that their father, Jack, has passed away and their father’s best friend Miguel, (Jon Huertas) is now their stepfather. That hit me hard. Because Jack is an amazing dad and husband. But ultimately we have to move on in life.

Even though Jack is one of the best TV dads I’ve seen in a long time, we cannot expect his wife and his children to stop their lives. All they can do is honour his memory by being there for each other and for the Big Three to stay connected, even though they don’t speak to or see each other every day.

6. Family over everything

My favourite moment in the whole of season one, is when Randall, struggling with everything that is going on in his life, which includes work, his family, his father’s sickness and his ability to remain seemingly perfect despite all of this.

Randall informs his brother Kevin that he won’t be able to see the premiere of his play because of work. Kevin, leaves the theatre and runs to his brother’s office, where he consoles him as he breaks down in his office. Someone cut onions right in front of me as this happened!

It was an incredible scene, especially given that Randall and Kevin have never had the best relationship, with Kevin often feeling like Randall got more attention and love because his parents wanted Randall to feel like part of the family.

All that tension and resentment has followed both of them throughout their lives, with the two seeming to mostly tolerate each other instead of genuinely caring for one another.

But in this moment, when his brother needed him most, he thought of someone other than himself, which for me, is the most important lesson in this series. This is family and family is important.

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Dean Ravell

Writer/director. Fascinated with all kinds of film and just wants to be part of the wonderful world of cinema.


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