This Is Us Season 2 Episode 1 Review: A Father’s Advice

This Is Us returns with an emotional season 2 premiere. Here is our review!

This This Is Us review contains spoilers. 

This Is Us Season 2 Episode 1

A synopsis is in order for season one for those unfamiliar with the show. At its core, This Is Us, is about imperfect people, improbable situations, and second chances. Where but on television, in the movies, and in books do African American male babies abandoned at fire stations get adopted by well-meaning white suburban parents?

On This Is Us, viewers live vicariously through a nontraditional family’s past and present. The Pearsons are unafraid of showing their emotional, psychological, and physical bumps and bruises most people would rather keep hidden. The main characters are flesh and bone, with unique challenges and goals they don’t always overcome and accomplish. The writers allow the unsavory bits and human existence to land where they may.

The show traverses time, locales, and various viewpoints in hopes of presenting fulfilling character experiences and justifications for their behavior. The show wouldn’t be as successful if it didn’t rely heavily on flashbacks to drive its present-day narrative. Who are we as humans but future versions of our past lives?

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The show doesn’t exalt one character over another. The show doesn’t go for the common tropes too often seen on television and in the movies. Some critics of the show say it’s emotionally-manipulative. No one can be made to feel a certain way without their permission.

This Is Us works on different levels because of the writing, acting, and directing. Race, gender roles, and body image issues are interwoven into the storyline. Prior to this show, African American adoptees were written as beneficiaries of white saviors. Obese characters more often than not were the jolly, misunderstood best friends to the leads. Sexual orientation on the show isn’t a neon sign as it can be on others. There was a collective gasp when it was revealed that William was bisexual, with a white ex-lover, no less. Viewers’ deep-rooted prejudices, feelings, and fears are brought to the surface and exposed for us to examine should we so choose.

Tonight’s season premiere, “A Father’s Advice,” revisits William’s early days on-screen and in voiceover typing poems to the son he abandoned after his mother’s untimely death due to hard living and drug addiction. The earned wisdom is timely because Randall has decided he and his wife, Beth, will adopt a newborn son so that he can pay forward the life and opportunities he was afforded.

Beth’s no pushover and doesn’t take too kindly to the ultimatum she’s given. It is through her recent past with William that she found a middle ground to satiate her husband’s burning desire and maintain her sanity with what has happened in the previous year.

It’s the siblings’ birthday in the season opener, and viewers peer into the magic flashback window and experience the events leading up to their father’s untimely demise due to his battle with alcoholism.

Through a retelling of past events and a present-day conversation with his mother, Randall realized he’s Jack’s son on the subject of adoption. He, too, is William’s son because he’s bullheaded. It’s a nod to nature versus nurture. Most side-by-side comparisons of Jack versus William are unnecessary. They are both needed on the show.

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It was a different place and time when Jack and Rebecca adopted Randall. Rebecca wasn’t unhappy as a wife and mother. However, she wasn’t fulfilled as a creative individual outside of her marriage. This imbalance shaped and colored her life in the aftermath of her first husband’s death. Her children weren’t immune to the emotional and psychological wreckage wrought by Jack’s drinking and Rebecca’s unfulfilled performance desires.

Kate is an emotional eater and closet performer. Kevin is the vainglorious jock turned actor starving for attention and adulation. Randall is the academic geek and perfectionist, who although loved his parents and upbringing, might continue to fight the ghosts of his physical and emotional abandonment.

The main takeaway from tonight’s episode was William’s advice to Randall on knowing who and what’s important, and not losing it all for a seemingly noble but one-sided pursuit.


4 out of 5