Break out your tissues while watching This Is Us


A devoted fan who happens to be a therapist offers her insights about This Is Us accompanied by a steady supply of tissues.

I came late to the This Is Us fan club and admittedly needed to binge watch the entire first season,  as I needed to break out tissues which I did in a two-week period at the home of a friend. This groundbreaking, time-stretchy dance with all of the elements of a winning show (drama, comedy, mushy love stories, conflict, secrets, mystery and a full range of human emotions) had me hooked from day one.  Full disclosure: I don’t watch much television and it is usually at the gym and generally takes the form of home improvement shows.

My initial response was that it reminded me immediately of one my former faves: Thirtysomething. Being a Philly girl, I appreciated that the show which aired from 1987-1991 was centered around my hometown. In short order, I realized the reason why the writing style seemed so familiar. What both runaway hits had in common was Executive Producer Ken Olin.  

Clearly, the same sensibilities, including the intersection of love and angst, exist on both shows. I also can’t help but believe that the writing staff has psychological consultants who whisper ideas in their heads about the interactions between the characters. While watching season one and much of season two with a friend, I would interject, “Look what’s going to happen next.” I could predict what the characters would say to each other.

She would turn to me incredulously and ask how I knew, once it had played out on the screen. I would sigh and remind her that I have been a therapist for 40 years and the dialog and dynamics between the Pearson family members were genuine and true to life. None of it feels contrived.

With equal certainty, I knew to have tissues at the ready. The show does not disappoint in that regard. It is one of the reasons some people watch; to get their weekly emotional purge-on. It has come to be recognized for that ability to turn even normally stoic people into puddles of mush. Call it ‘all the feelz therapy.’  The characters are relatable. Everyone either knows someone like them or thinks, ‘I AM them.’

The overarching themes of family, multi-generational addiction, sharing love and loss, picking up the pieces, body image issues, facing challenges with grace and grit are all going to be touched on in my blog.

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I look forward to being a regular commentator on each episode. At this moment, my sense of curiosity goes to trying to figure out who the ‘her’ is that Randall and Tess are speaking about in a future based scene. I have my theories but don’t want to spoil it, so I will leave it up to the genius writing, acting, and production staff to reveal it to us in their own excruciatingly sweet time.