This Is Us Does More Than Entertain by Jackie Pilossoph for Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press
I had a chance over the holidays to binge watch the NBC comedy-drama series everyone I know has been talking about: “This Is Us.” Now I know why everyone is talking about it – because “This Is Amazing!”
“This Is Us,” which premiered last September and which airs again beginning Jan. 10, is smart, honest and really entertaining. With several plot twists which captivated me throughout its 10 episodes, the show offers really cute and funny dialogue between lovable characters to whom I found myself instantly attached. I’m hooked.
The show revolves around-36 year-old triplets: Kate, who struggles with being severely overweight; Kevin, a famed television actor who seems lost in life; and Randall, their adopted black brother and a wealthy family man who recently found his biological father.
But aside from its entertainment value, “This Is Us” offers something else. Through interweaving story lines that take place in the past and in present day, the show has an ability to make viewers think about how childhood experiences help shape who we become as adults.
There is a scene in Kate’s childhood when she notices a tag on her mother’s blouse showing the size as “Small.” She then looks at the tag on her own sweater and it reads “XL.” Another example is a scene when Kevin throws a temper-tantrum at age 8, screaming at his parents that they are always catering to Kate because of her weight and Randall because he is adopted. As for Randall, as a child he is constantly trying to be friends with Kevin, who is resentful of his adopted brother.
Almost everyone has both good and bad family memories of their childhood. They can include conversations we had with our parents, things they might have said to us or didn’t say that hurt or helped us, family traditions, inside jokes, family celebrations, times we fought with our parents and/or siblings and painful times in our households, like when a grandparent became ill or died, or when our parents argued.
Things might have happened that were hurtful, that made us insecure or perhaps even that caused us to be a little bitter or resentful. The bright side is people also have childhood experiences that made us strong, passionate about something, smart, thankful and loving. Or not loving.
I believe people learn how to love (or not love) at an early age, and that we learn it from our family, mostly our parents and siblings. Children notice every single little thing that is happening around them. And, what they see, they will almost certainly emulate. That is why for parents, leading by example is key in raising kids to be loving, caring, kind adults.
Kids will watch how their parents treat each other. They will notice if mom and dad are nice to each other, if they speak to each other in a respectful tone, if they buy each other birthday gifts, if they hold hands. They will also notice if their parents are mean to each other, if one or both act distant, if either drinks and drives, if one parent isn’t home a lot.
Kids notice the second their parents are in a fight. They notice abuse – both verbal and physical. If something is wrong with a parent, often a kid will notice way before the spouse. So, as a parent, you aren’t fooling your kids if you are inauthentic in how you treat your spouse.
When kids grow up and get into romantic relationships, their parents often serve as their guidebook on how to be in the relationship. If mom and dad fought a lot, they might say, “I’m never going to be like them,” or they might end up getting into a relationship in which the dialogue is often argumentative. If someone’s childhood experience included parents who had a genuinely healthy relationship, they are more likely to choose a partner who will foster a relationship similar to the healthiness they saw growing up.
That’s not to say that if your parents had a bad relationship, you are doomed. But I really believe that because people tend to repeat behavior they are familiar with, those with not-so-ideal childhood memories might benefit in life and in relationships from therapy and other kinds of emotional support.
Randall is the only one of the triplets in “This Is Us” who is married, and in my opinion, the show’s writers wanted both Kate and Kevin to be single at the start of the show so that in future seasons viewers can watch them fall in love and get married. Will they choose healthy, loving relationships? Click here to read the rest of the article, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press.
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