TV TALK with BILL CUSHING ~ NBC’s ‘This Is Us’ Is This Year’s Best New Drama


By: Bill Cushing – Oct. 2016

‘Every year there are a bunch of new TV shows that premiere. Some will make it, some will not. If you read my column last month, you would have seen that one of the new shows I recommended checking out was NBC’s ‘This Is Us.’

‘This Is Us’ is a drama series about a group of seemingly unconnected people who all share the same birthday. The series, set in Pittsburgh, follows married couple Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore), twin siblings Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley), and successful family man Randall (Sterling K. Brown). When we first meet them, Jack, Kate, Kevin and Randall are all celebrating their 36th birthdays, as well as dealing with the trials and tribulations of their lives.

Rebecca is pregnant and in the first scene, her water breaks, sending her and Jack to the hospital. Kate is dealing with her addiction to food and her struggle with her weight. Kevin is a sitcom actor, tired of the low quality work he has to do day after day. Randall, after searching for a while, has located his father. All of these characters are beginning new chapters in their lives, and making changes. That’s how the story unfolds, and as it does, we begin to learn that a birthday isn’t the only thing that connects these characters. To say too much more would give away one of the best twists in recent TV memory.

The pilot episode is expertly constructed , well written, and beautifully presented by the actors. Watch for a great scene between Gerald McRaney, as the doctor delivering Rebecca’s baby, and Milo Ventimiglia.

Granted, we’ve only seen 2 episodes. But so far ‘This Is Us’ is a breath of fresh air in the age of formulaic network TV dramas. Heartfelt dramas are becoming increasingly rare in today’s TV landscape.

If you’re a fan of slam-bang action shows with lots of blood and violence and have no taste for a smart drama series with a lot of heart, then this probably isn’t the show for you. But if you were a fan of a show like ‘Parenthood’ and you’re looking for a comforting show that doesn’t sacrifice intelligence for quality, then check out ‘This Is Us.’
The series had a lot of buzz surrounding it even before it aired. When the trailer premiered on YouTube back in May, it garnered over 17 million views in its first 3 days. It has since been watched over 65 million times.

If you’re concerned about getting interested in a show only to see it get cancelled, don’t worry. The show is one of the highest rated new shows of the fall and has already been picked up for a full season.

‘This Is Us’ comes from Dan Fogelman, the screenwriter who wrote the film ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ and airs Tuesdays at 9 on NBC. You can catch up On Demand.

Do you have any questions about TV? Email me at I will answer all of your questions and will feature some of the questions I receive in a future column.

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