So of COURSE I watched “This is Us” after the Super Bowl. Those of you who have not gotten sucked into this TV show, this is the gist of it. Jack and Rebecca are pregnant with (OMG) triplets. A newborn baby is delivered to a firehouse and abandoned. One of the triplets doesn’t make it, and Jack and Rebecca take the orphaned baby home with them. The newborn is black and Jack and Rebecca’s family is white. The action takes place in the present when all the kids are now 37 years old. Through the use of flashbacks and narratives, we discover the back stories of all the kids. We know that their dad dies tragically. We don’t know how but we’re given hints throughout the season.
Now EVERYONE loves Jack. He’s wise, kind, funny and smart. He’s adventurous and optimistic. Even when we find out he’s an alcoholic, we forgive him and care about him. He adores his kids and will do anything for them to make sure they become great adults. Rebecca is also wise and smart. She follows Jack into all sorts of adventures with no trepidation. She’s brave and resourceful. She cares deeply for all her kids. She’s the mama bear you don’t want to cross. Together they are dynamite! They are the parents all of us want to be. EVERY SINGLE ONE of their kids is screwed up.
Kevin is handsome and popular, and doesn’t think he’s worthy of praise and goes out of his way to sabotage himself. He’s a talented football player that doesn’t work hard in school because he is a talented athlete and then is rude to the recruiter that comes to his house. His knee then gets permanently damaged and his football career is over before it starts. Because he didn’t care about his grades, he can not now get into college. He marries his high school sweetheart, and then cheats on her. She divorces him. He realizes that he was stupid and tries to get back with her. Then, at a reunion, he cheats on her again! He’s in a very popular sitcom and blows up at the end of an episode because he is incensed that his audience doesn’t mind what he’s saying or what he’s doing as long as he has his shirt off. Then he quits the show. He’s in a movie with Ron Howard and Sly Stallone and due to an injury, he becomes addicted to Vicodin and alcohol. He is honored at a HS reunion and doesn’t believe he deserves any recognition and has a melt down, and loses the necklace his dad gives him in the hospital when his knee was operated on. He has another meltdown when the woman he had the one night stand with refuses to return his necklace. He ends up getting and staying very drunk and goes driving with his niece who, without his knowledge, has sneaked into the back of his car. He is remanded to rehab where, in a mandatory psychological session, he tells everyone what a horrible childhood he had…much to the surprise of the rest of his family. He’s very fragile.
Kate is a big hearted girl with a gorgeous voice and the most beautiful face and smile. She’s also 500 pounds. She binge-eats junk food and convinces herself to hate herself. It’s just easier to give up and listen to the nasty self talk than to change the self talk. She meets an amazing guy, Toby, and is planning to get married. She meets Toby at an Over-eater’s Anonymous meeting, so yes, Toby is also big. (Shades of Mike and Molly…) She has a miscarriage due to weight and age and that devastates her. She’s very emotional and what she can’t handle, she compensates for by eating. Kate is very fragile.
Randall is the black child in the white family. Well THERE’S an issue. But he’s a good kid, a gentleman, deeply caring about his brother and sister. He’s extremely smart and successful in his work. He’s always trying to fit in and sometimes tries too hard to please. He has had 2 nervous breakdowns one of which is just 2 months before he delivers his first child in the living room and he’s cool as a cucumber as he does this! He is always seeking perfection, and of course that’s not possible. He is married with two beautiful daughters. He tends to over-analyze everything and stress over everything. He had brought his cancer riddled biological dad into his house after discovering him after a long search. His dad had been a drug addicted, bisexual musician. (There’s another issue!) His biological dad dies during this first season. He and his wife have bought the apartment building where his biological dad used to live, and he’s trying to renovate the place overnight. Randall and his wife have become foster parents. They’re taking in the kids that no one else wants–the older ones with problems. Do you see a pattern here? Randall is very fragile.
So these perfect parents, Jack and Rebecca, do all the right things when it comes to raising kids. We all wish we could have had these perfect parents. So why are all their kids screwed up? Does that give us hope? Even though we do everything right our kids might be train wrecks and it’s NOT our faults? And yet… Because they lose Jack when the kids are 17, could that be the fly in the ointment? Well? They were all showing signs of dysfunction in the flashbacks. Randall had a notebook where he kept relationship notes not unlike Sheldon in Big Bang Theory. He’s anxious and too eager to please even at an early age. Kevin knows he’s popular and well liked and uses that to his advantage, but doesn’t develop well as a person. For instance: Kevin knows that his sister won’t get the most popular boy to hold her hand because she’s not thin like the other girls so he bribes the boy Kate wants to get close to with all his Halloween candy. He feels that his mom prefers Randall because he’s the adopted one, and that Dad prefers Kate because she’s the girl and he feels like he’s on his own. Kate, on the other hand, gets made fun of by her peers and then jumps in and agrees with their assessment. She assumes the persona that is put on her by others while in elementary school. She feels judged by her mom who tries to amend Kate’s fixation on food. This grows to a feeling of her mom’s judgment on everything she does. All of these incidents happen when the kids are 8/9/10 years old. So the signs of dysfunction are visible even before their marvelous dad, Jack, dies.
Could this mean that the Dr. Spock books are inaccurate?