Featured, Pop Culture, Television, Theory & Essay

I Binged Watched ‘This Is Us’ And My Feelings Are In Shambles. I May Never Recover. ZOMG!

(There are very, very light spoilers in this piece. None of them tell you much of about the plot of the show.)

On February 23, 2017, I wrote the following status update on Facebook:

Well, I guess I need to watch “This Is Us.” I’ve not intentionally avoided it but have yet to see a single episode. But I want to cry, too. Everybody out here in tears because of that show. I want to cry in the car. I want to get onto FB and tell everybody I’m crying too.

I’m gon’ cry y’all. Mary was not gon’ cry, but I guess she never watched “This Is Us” because she was too busy being a lover and a secretaire, which isn’t a thing, but because Mary, the secreataire is the first face you see at the dancery.

This status update went off the rails somewhere.

This was after it seems like my entire FB timeline was an emotional wreck after watching the latest episode of “This Is Us,” an episode that upon watching last night put me so far into my feelings at midnight that I retreated up to my room to tell my girlfriend about how much of a wreck I was and after trying to explain to her what I’d just seen, she looked at me and said, “are you about to start crying now?”

I literally had to excuse myself because, yes, I was about to start bawling. Again. Everybody who watches this show knows this episode. It’s titled, “Memphis” and I don’t think I’ve boohooed that much – literal tears streaming down my face – since the episode of “Dawson’s Creek” where his father dies and Dawson breaks down in the car while James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” played. We’re talking “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” “how come he don’t want me, man?” tears.

I was not prepared.

Basically, the way I felt by the end of that episode – which was SO masterfully done and executed (Sterling Brown deserves awards for this show) even though I knew what was coming – was like taking Ricky’s death, with Will’s daddy leaving again, while watching Mufasa fall, while watching the end of Beaches. I was done. Plain and simple.

Shit, I’m STILL not over it. My feelings are currently raw and I’m not even close to joking. It’s been a good long while since I’ve cared this much about show characters. I’m almost mad for not getting on the train earlier, but I’m glad I watched the whole thing in one sitting because I’d have lost my shit waiting for the next episode of emotional torture that I wanted and needed in my life so badly. Apparently.

I never intentionally didn’t watch “This Is Us,” I just never made any effort either. Before the season started, a company sent me a few screeners for the show. I never got around to watching them. Then the show aired and I’d hear people talking about it, etc. It wasn’t until the “Memphis” episode aired, and I wouldn’t know it as that until this weekend, that my timeline exploded with tears and emotions, from both men and women alike. It was almost as if the internet needed a collective hug. I decided then that at some point I’d start watching.

On Saturday afternoon via Hulu, I made a decision that would forever change the course of my life: I welcomed the lives of Jack, Rebecca, Kevin, Kate, Randall, Beth, William, Toby, etc. in to my life, the same way Randall did when he made that fateful knock.

I ain’t been right since. For starters, the casting is fabulous. It is absolutely a delight to watch these folks work together. The writing is superb. But the emotions they draw out are the reason this show matters. I’ve been in my feelings EVERY.SINGLE.EPISODE. Aside from the aforementioned “Memphis” episode, the first time I had actual tears fall down my face (though I’ve teared up on every episode except oddly, the season finale) was episode five where Kevin attempts to salvage his horrible explanation to the girls about death. His minutes long monologue and talk to his nieces was so perfect, especially spliced with video footage of Randall, ya know, after Memphis, KILT ME DEAD.

Each episode’s new layer and wrinkle to the family dynamic with some nugget of life, usually at the hands of family patriarch, Jack…

Let’s talk about Jack for a minute. Jack isn’t perfect. Not by a long shot, but good got damn. I want to marry Jack, y’all. Talk about a man who is like the world’s greatest father and husband who always finds a way to say just what needs to be heard in the moment.

I could probably do a 10 greatest times Jack was the greatest man on the planet list and still need another 90. No bullshit, for the past, I don’t know, 25 years of my life, I’ve solidly determined that Charles Ingalls from “Little House On the Prairie” was EASILY the world’s greatest TV father.

E.V.E.R.

Jack is 1A now. Even in defeat he finds a way to be charming and inspirational. I’m afraid to find out what happened to him and want to fight *CENSORED* and *CENSORED* EVERY TIME I SEE THEM ON SCREEN TOGETHER.

Jack is #bae.

If you’re not watching “This Is Us,” do yourself a favor and check it out. It might do your heart some good. You probably are watching already because you want to know what the hype is and now you’re fully ensconsed into the Pearson family as is only right.

The ducks. The mailman. The postcard. The love. The family. The flashbacks. Beth. The book of poems.

I’m still in my feelings. And that’s okay because it let me know that I have them. Join me in my feelings and let’s be an emotional trainwreck together. And we haven’t even gotten to the biggest mystery yet.

WE GON CRY Y’ALL.

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Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    Man you don got me back in my feelings.

    Fellas if you are not married, strive to have a wife like Beth. Beth is B.A.E. Method Man was thinking of Beth when he and Mary J made the classic ghetto love ballad.

    • Who is Beth? She sounds white. What’s so special about her??

      • Stop. Slowly back away from the post. Beth can’t be explained. Gotta experience her. Beth is BAE

        • Well I’m not watching this show so someone will explain it to me.

          • Janelle Doe

            she is not yt. And she is the wife of Randall

            • SoonToBeMrs

              Thank God. And then so, why she special?

            • That’s why she special? Because she married?

              • SoonToBeMrs

                I’m tryna be like her, but all we getting is vague azzzz responses.

                • Right! Apparently she took care of her s h i t t y father in law during his time of need. That is an admirable quality I suppose. I don’t have that kind of empathy for terrible people. I’m going to make your life terrible.

                  • SoonToBeMrs

                    I’m with her on that. Your parents not exempt, they can gerrit too, if they overstep.
                    Book of Not Tuhday or Ever Satan: 3:12

                  • Yay Radley

                    That’s just it. Her F.I.L. is also the greatest person to ever live, which is why we ‘ship their friendship so hard. She wondered if he was terrible when he first came along, and set out to get him all the way together at the very start. It was smooth sailing after that.

                • Janelle Doe

                  sorry, hard to keep up with y’all
                  I answered above in another part of this thread [but check back in I am sure there will be more examples of Beth’s greatness shared by other commenters. E.g. I think she already got called Claire Huxtable 2017 by Queen]

                  • SoonToBeMrs

                    K.

              • Yay Radley

                No, because she is so very good at it. Yes, she supports him, and complements him in a way that is difficult to explain if you don’t see it. But she’s also very authentically Black – not in any of the heavy-handed, stereotypical ways that even “our” shows attempt to portray Blackness sometimes…just ordinary Black girl.
                She plays an ordinary Black girl, who is a great mom, excellent wife, wonderful friend and does it all in a way that makes you want to know her in real life — except we do. That’s why we love her. We all know and/or strive to be a Beth. As stated above, she is BAE. So very BAE.

                • Jennifer

                  This!

                • I wish you had been around earlier to say this.

      • Janelle Doe

        you serious or trolling?
        *genuinely asking

        • I am serious. I don’t watch this show. Why won’t y’all answer the question?

          • Janelle Doe

            ok I answered below. But to add she is the matriarch of the only (so far) Black family on the show. And she is amazing
            One of the many amazing things she did was make “brownies” for her terminally ill father in law after putting the kids to bed and sat with him in the backyard under the stars shooting s h it.
            Nvm that said father in law left her husband on the doorstep of a firehall as an infant

            • This is why I’m still unwed. I probably would’ve pushed that man down a flight of stairs.

              • kingpinenut

                Don’t marry a Texan…

              • Roz

                LMAO! It’s too early, ma’am.

                • Is it? lol

                  • Roz

                    To be pushing people down the stairs….maybe? lol

                    • Never too early to teach someone a lesson

            • Yay Radley

              “These are work brownies.” ***tears***

            • TheUnsungStoryteller

              Ummm…Ruby needs to watch the show. We can tell her all about Beth but it will do nothing without actually watching the show and seeing the characters in action herself.

              • Janelle Doe

                True. But she has decided she won’t watch so I am hopefully setting her ip for the spinoff ;-)

      • menajeanmaehightower

        Beth is Randall’s wife. When Beth almost told off Randall’s dad when they first met like “you are not about to come into my house upsetting my husband and our balance” Get it Beth!

        • I don’t follow. I’ve never seen an episode. No one is explaining what makes her so awesome. Supporting your husband is something wives are supposed to do.

          • menajeanmaehightower

            Then you won’t get it. Beth is black, his wife, and they met in college.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            You need to get off your azz and watch. The first episode will reveal all you need to know about Beth

            • y’all are so rude on this Monday morning. Sheesh.

              • TheUnsungStoryteller

                No, seriously watch it.

          • angela

            Why are you replying, to this thread if you haven’t watched the show? You wouldn’t understand about Beth unless you know who she is.

            • Because it’s an open thread and I wanted to know more about this character.

        • BatmansExWife

          Beth is awesome. She’s balances Randall and she is like the mom we all know.

          • menajeanmaehightower

            I did feel some type of way when Beth wouldn’t let Randall go to the work dinner. Like come on now Beth! Randall has to keep these clients and dude is stepping on his territory at work.

            • Sigma_Since 93

              Beth know those folks weren’t loyal.

              • menajeanmaehightower

                That man needed to keep that client! I was like Beth come on!!! But yeah, she knew and she fights for him. I do love her and I love the fact that she is black black. Like not black and prissy but black and will take you out if you mess with her family. I feel like Randall met her at a political rally on campus.

                • mssporadic

                  Definitely in the library or when he stumbled into a frat party.

              • TheUnsungStoryteller

                EXACTLY.

      • miss t-lee

        You have to watch the show.

        • So I’ve heard. That isn’t happening so I’ll just be content in never knowing.

          • miss t-lee

            LMAO

          • TheUnsungStoryteller

            Honest question: Why not?

            • All the commentary based around it is how sad people are after every episode. I’m not into that kind of film. I can take a sad story within a storyline but people saying they’re crying every week is a bit dramatic to me.

    • SoonToBeMrs

      Yes, I’m echoing Ruby what’s special about her?

      • It’s prolly cuz she white AM.

        • SoonToBeMrs

          LMAO!!!!!

        • Teketa

          But she’s not white so….

  • Duke losing must’ve been the icing on this sad cake you experienced.

    • Val

      Savage.

      • Support of that institution is always a terrible idea.

    • Lol #NoKY… daaaamnn

    • panamajackson

      I actually expected Duke to lose. I thought they were soft this year. Meanwhile, Damon had them winning in his bracket. I had Villanova. VSB did not show well this year.

      • Villanova losing really stunned everyone, I’m happy they got knocked out for obvious reasons. Redemption for my boys!

        I’m just happy I get to gloat at work today :-)

    • Shout out to the Thunderchickens and the Hens hoops squads this weekend.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        The women had me worried

        • Val

          It was too close for comfort.

        • They miss Coates.

      • Thunderchickens? Lol who is that??? You mean the Gamec0cks?!

        • Yes.

          • Who came up with these mascot names? Why would you want a c 0 c k as a mascot? For why?

            • The school is named after a guy named Thomas Sumter. He was one the people that Mel Gibson’s character in “The Patriot” was modeled after. I’ve heard the story told a few ways. One has the nickname being bestowed unto him by the English during the Revolution because he gave them the blues. The other is that an Indian chief called him the Gamecock out of respect.

              He apparently gave land to the school.

      • Val

        Are you referring to the Lady Gamecocks? If so Go Coach Staley!

        • Yes! I call them that or The Chicks cause there’s no such as a female rooster.

      • SoonToBeMrs

        Thunder chicken sounds like an IG thot/video vixen name auditioning for Trick Daddy’s video.

    • miss t-lee

      Jesucristo.

  • KeyBrad

    I’m mad they took William away so soon. He added soooo much to the show. I loved when Kevin called him the Wise Owl.

    • But get this, William is always there now. Every time I see Randall (and hear his name since William essentially named him), I see William. This zero fuxks Randall is who I’m here for. Oooh, I am so ready for season 2.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        The way he told his job to kick rocks. The look on dude’s face when he realized all the work would fall on his shoulders was priceless.

        • kingpinenut

          lol i was legit sayin lines before he spoke. Folks was like, “How you know what he GON SAY???!!”

          Cause I’m BLACK man fuggamukka

        • When he broke down the pears. Like, YOU KNOW, and if you didn’t know—after ALL my time here—you’ll never forget.

          • Janelle Doe

            Boss was just not [never going to be] ready

          • Right? I LIVED for that moment.

          • miss t-lee

            After all this time!!!! I was hype like it was me.

        • TheUnsungStoryteller

          And the boss was like “What are you going to do?”

          – What he really meant was “What are WE going to do without you?”

  • mssporadic

    I tried to watch the first 3 episodes but I was too #youngold to pay attention. I caught up when USA ran a marathon during the holidays. Then I was hooked.

    We really could do a Top 10 greatest scenes from this season:

    1) Memphis. The whole episode. Have to re-watch because I don’t understand the ducks.
    2) Karate scene
    3) FUNeral episode

    Sadly, I found the season finale anti-climatic. Wasn’t that emotional. However, was the wife who Jack was supposed to meet? I didn’t understanding their #HowWeMet section of the episode.

    • panamajackson

      The finale was what I needed. I don’t think I could have handled a big reveal on Jack or anything. It wasn’t nearly as emotionally draining. But the prior two eps took me out. When she got the postcard AFTER BEING PISSED at William, I legit got mad for them taking me BACK to my emo place.I ugly cried.

      • Kenya G

        The white women in the fan groups have summized that finale was another mind blower like the first episode.

        They believe that jack is already dead during that fight scene. I’m inclined to believe them. The light around him, the wink as he walked out the door and the way she touched that necklace are the bits they pulled out to justify their theory.

        • Roz

          *mind blown* I think I see it. When Rebecca wakes up and walks downstairs, there’s an emptiness in the house before she sees Jack. Hmmm, interesting theory.

          • Kenya G

            Exactly why I am running with it. Im okay to be wrong but man oh man, I’d fall the eff out if those white women are right.

        • Detroit Skater

          no! don’t say that! ?

  • Dope show. I initially thought it would be a cheese fest when I saw the ads for it but I was wrong.

    I love how they back fill the pasts of Jack and Rebecca and how they keep it linked to present.

    They got the black folk’s right and I’m happy about that.* Beth, the girls, and William rounded out the brown side of the Pearson clan nicely and with actual depth and layers. Beth’s character is criminally underrated cause she’s riding and dying with THE best of them.** The episode with William in Memphis made me sad. As sad I was when Col Taylor was sick on Queen Sugar.

    The postcard #doe.

    I don’t know, 25 years of my life, I’ve solidly determined that Charles Ingalls from “Little House On the Prairie” was EASILY the world’s greatest TV father.- He’s on the list. He’s up there with the Rifleman.

    *I still think Randall maybe a Honolulu Slim allegory
    **They are my new favorite TV married couple. They should meet up with Eric and Tami Taylor while on a trip to Philly.

    • mssporadic

      Yes to the postcard! I just knew William didn’t forget about Beth.

      • Roz

        I thought he did! That postcard had my fighting air.

    • miss t-lee

      ” I initially thought it would be a cheese fest when I saw the ads for it but I was wrong.”

      That’s what took me so long to watch it. My sister kept telling me I needed to watch it. So finally around episode 5 I jumped in. Been in there ever since.

    • miss t-lee

      “*I still think Randall maybe a Honolulu Slim allegory”

      Hmmmm. Didn’t think about that, but real good point.

  • Kat

    I watched the first episode and was honestly bored. Every one keeps saying push forward but why though….

    • Janelle Doe

      I see what you are saying.
      If you are going to only give one more episode a try, [though] I recommend Memphis

    • panamajackson

      Really? I was hooked after the first episode when they got to the end and blew my mind. Like…EYE DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. I was good after that.

      • Kat

        Ima try again…if only because I’m letting cable go and it’s on Amazon or Netflix. One of them two.

        • mssporadic

          I believe it’s on Hulu. If it goes to Netflix, it’ll probably be in the summer.

    • mssporadic

      I didn’t get hooked until a few episodes in. Gotta keep watching! Each episode is peels back the layers of their lives, so builds with each episode.

  • menajeanmaehightower

    Memphis wasn’t right. At all. I cried. Like real tears. When he said something about the greatest moment of my life was looking up at my mom and now you looking down on me….STOP IT!

    The brothers relationship! It’s like they are keeping this real. Randall wanted a brother and Kevin wanted space to be seen in his family and that dynamic between them and then when Kevin finally became the brother that Randall needed at that important moment and just held him.

    This show isn’t right.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    Moments where Jack earned his spot in the Mount Rushmore of Fathers:

    Letting Randall be great and paying for private school by sacrificing starting his own business
    The scene in the dojo where he’s doing pushups with Randall on his back
    The abuse he took from his dad to get the coin for the house

    • You gotta step back. Getting Randall in the first place. But yes, the Dojo scene… epic!

    • miss t-lee

      The scene in the dojo…man!

    • panamajackson

      The pushups bro.

      I legit cried at the pushups.

      • Roz

        I’m crying all over again thinking about that. And I agree with you: Jack is bae!

      • Yay Radley

        Listen. It’s on the list now. If I can’t pile my babies on your back while you’re doing pushups, why are you even here, man? Why for?!

      • Kelly Kell

        I had to pause and cry on that one.

        • LifeDelishUs

          A shoulders shaking cry. Not pretty.

      • Jasmin Barnett

        The PUSH UP scene….omg…the best thing ive ever seen!

      • Me too. Still one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever witnessed between a TV dad and his son.

    • Yes! That took so much courage for him to even ask his dad, knowing he was gonna have to take that abuse. Crazy…

      • Yay Radley

        Did you notice how he didn’t even mention Kate or the babies? Like, that made me wonder if he even told his dad he had a family. Like, knowing anything he did would be berated, he didn’t even give him the opportunity. Because Lord knows if that man said anything about Kate or (later), those kids…

        • Exactly! He humbled himself to take care of her. #bae

        • Kelly Kell

          Remember, he took his ring out his pocket and put it back on when he left. I think he kept his family from his father and had him believe whatever story he was creating about him.

    • Phil GoBeGreat

      I just got emo thinking about those pushups again. FML

    • Detroit Skater

      that dojo scene! ??

    • Marlene Allen

      Yes, the pushups!! And I’ll add when Rebecca was pregnant, forgot it was Jack’s B-day, his boy took him to play golf and Jack was like, “Naw, I’m going home. I’m not trying to escape my wife…”… DONE.

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        FOR REAL. HUSBAND GOALS.

      • Mary Burrell

        The push-ups were beautiful I love that episode.

    • Bruh. The pushups?

      I’m tearing up right now.

    • BatmansExWife

      Man, the pushup part. And what I love, was that he was just being his dad. Not the white dad with the black son necessarily, but just trying to figure out how to be a dad to Randall.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        I give Jack, and mom to a lesser extent, props for accepting help from Black folk.

        • Yay Radley

          She gets zero props from me. I ain’t over it.

          • TheUnsungStoryteller

            Why? (I think I know what you’re talking about) But Explain.

            • Yay Radley

              She always feared that if he were allowed to identify too much with his Blackness, it would somehow negate or replace his love for and identity with her.

              That’s why she had a knee-jerk reaction when she initially saw him with the Black family at the pool, and ultimately why she denied him a relationship with Wm.

              Coincidentally, it’s also yet another reason I love Beth so much. Randall had every opportunity to grow up to be the kind of Black man we love to hate – out of touch to the point of condescension, esp. with his intellect and career. He’s not, and I think Beth is a large part of why that is.

              • TheUnsungStoryteller

                Hmmm…I see. And I agree. Thanks

    • Junegirl627

      I forgot about the push-ups!!!!???

    • Junegirl627

      At the pool and giving Kate his t-shirt and that speech!!!

      • Another Man’s Rhubarb

        that did me all the way in.

    • Jdotdoc

      The push up were the first episode where I lost it. I’m not supposed to be in my living room crying and snotting over some pretend characters man.

    • Kenya Herring

      Yes. All that.

    • TheUnsungStoryteller

      BOIIIIIIIII…NOW THAT WAS THE SCENE THAT DID IT TO ME!!! That father and son karate scene was POWERFUL! Just beautiful.

    • Traci J

      The pushups had me in Kim K ugly cry territory!

  • Courtney Wheeler

    See? This is the exact reason why I don’t want to watch that show!! Life is already “ugly crying” inducing…
    http://ell.h-cdn.co/assets/cm/15/01/54a78a9754dec_-_cryinggifs_01_1.gif

  • Jennifer

    “*CENSORED* and *CENSORED*”

    Listen, I have been looking at *CENSORED 1* with some side-eye ever since that plot point was revealed. I hope we discover why that coupling took place in the second season. It better be a good ol’ reason.

    • mssporadic

      Probably the same reason Hunter Biden is with his brother’s widow.

      I loved what *CENSORED* said to Kevin about Jack.

    • Roz

      “It better be a good ol’ reason” Listen…this is me too! I may have to email the producers if I’m not satisfied.

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