According to Wikipedia, over 18 million people share the same birthday, but there’s nothing to prove a behavioral link — yet. This is how the series premiere of This Is Us begins. I have high hopes for the show that’s said to fill the void that Parenthood left.
It’s split into four storylines, and the pilot focuses on the group’s 36th birthdays and how they spend them. Jack and Rebecca face a challenge as she goes into labor; Kate deals with her weight struggles, while her brother Kevin has a meltdown at work; and Randall seeks out his father who left him at a fire station as a baby. But how are they all connected? Luckily, this is revealed in the pilot and it’s a pretty good twist.
This Is Us Review: Humanity Returns to Television >>>
Randall is a very successful businessman. He spends his 36th birthday at work and at his daughters’ soccer games with his wife. He tells his wife that he hired an investigator to track down his birth father, who left him at a fire station 36 years ago.
Later on, he goes to visit his birth father, William, and it’s clear he has mixed emotions. At first, he tells him how successful he is and that he doesn’t want anything from him. However, when William invites him in, Randall goes inside. William doesn’t apologize but explains that the life he has led is punishment enough for how he left Randall, though he doesn’t remember leaving him at the station. He does, however, remember the day Randall’s mother died.
After telling William off, Randall storms out. Then he immediately walks back in and invites him over to see his grandchildren. At his house, his wife, Beth, is a little surprised. As William talks to his grandchildren, Randall has a mini-freakout, as he can’t believe this is his life now.
As William gets ready to leave later, he tells Randall that his father, meaning his adoptive father, must be proud of him. He then reveals that he is dying.
Kate and Kevin’s Struggle
Kate is struggling with her weight. At 36, she can’t believe her life has ended up this way, with her being overweight and single. She has notes in her fridge about what’s okay and not okay to eat. As she goes to weigh herself, she falls and twists her ankle. She calls her brother Kevin for help.
Kevin, meanwhile, is also re-evaluating his life. He’s an actor on a sitcom called The MAN-NY, which is about a male nanny. He gets the call from Kate as he’s surrounded by pretty girls explaining the story of the Challenger explosion. He heads over to comfort his sister and helps her to put some perspective on her life.
Kate promises to finally lose the weight. She even throws out all her junk food and heads to a support group. There, she meets Toby, another member who doesn’t seem to take the group too seriously. He hits on her after the meeting. She tells him she plans to lose the weight, and he says he doesn’t. When she tells him she doesn’t want to date fat people right now, he says, “I guess I’ll lose the weight.”
The pair go on a date, where they have a short argument over dessert, before they get the check and go home. At the door, Toby makes a joke about her inviting him in. She eventually does and has a mini-freakout when he suggests hooking up.
Meanwhile, on the set of his show, Kevin argues with the writer over the quality of the script. The writer tells him to just read his lines or he can be replaced. Later on, in another scene, he gets dramatic with Alan Thicke playing his on-screen father. However, just as he’s proud of himself, the writer asks that Kevin do the scene a little lighter for a second shoot and without his shirt. Kevin flips out, throws the baby doll around and quits. Of course, all of the audience members video the freakout and it’s in the news within minutes.
Kevin heads to Kate’s house and reveals himself just as Toby is making the move on her. The three get drunk together, as Kevin tries to figure out what to do next. As Kate puts Kevin to bed, Toby lightly kisses her, to “get it out of the way.”
Quiz: Which TV Sidekick Are You? >>>
Rebecca and Jack’s Challenge
A very pregnant Rebecca is celebrating her husband Jack’s 36th birthday. The celebration is interrupted when she goes into labor six weeks early with her triplets. At the hospital, Dr. K. comes in and explains that Rebecca’s doctor had an appendicitis and that she’s in good hands. She’s worried because it’s a high-risk pregnancy, but Dr. K. assures her everything will be okay.
Later on, when Dr. K. wants to discuss what happens if one of the babies should be at risk, Jack doesn’t want to have the conversation, convinced that it’s going to be a good day and everyone is going to be healthy.
During the birth, after the first baby boy is delivered, Rebecca goes into distress. Dr. K. says he’ll have to perform surgery, and he gets Jack out of the room. He comes out of surgery and tells Jack that one of the babies didn’t survive. The second baby girl is healthy, but the third baby, a boy, had an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and didn’t make it. At first, Jack can’t comprehend what’s happening. Once he does, he can’t believe it. Dr. K. sits with him for a bit and tells him about how he lost his very first child during delivery, and that’s why he became a doctor.
As Jack visits his babies, a police officer stands next to him and asks which one is his. Jack points out his twins. When Jack asks the officer which one is his, the officer tells Jack that he was just dropping off a baby that he found at a fire station. He then tells him congrats and offers him a cigarette. And it’s then we realize that it’s 1980 and that Jack and Rebecca are Kate and Kevin’s birth parents and Randall’s adoptive parents.
Quite a Twist
This Is Us did promise a big twist. At first, I thought it was that one of the triplets didn’t survive. But I certainly didn’t have any clue that Rebecca and Jack’s story takes place in the ’80s. I think this is a very different take on a show, and I’m eager to see how it plays out. There’s obviously a lot of ways the plot can go, as there’s 36 years worth of memories to how everyone got to where they are today.
I think the characters are likable, and each one’s storyline is interesting. And as someone who just turned 35 myself, I’m eager to see how these characters re-assess their lives at 36 and the changes they make to better themselves. I’m also pretty stoked to possibly reminisce about the ’80s and ’90s, and hope that the show dives into that.
What did you think? Do you think This Is Us will last or fizzle? Do you think the time jump is unique or will it get confusing? Let us know in the comments below.
This Is Us season 1 airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC. Starting October 4, This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c. Want more news? Like BuddyTV’s This Is Us Facebook Page.
(Image courtesy of NBC)