A Philadelphia Story
The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning
The Last Seven Weeks
Songbird Road: Part One
Songbird Road: Part Two
Our Little Island Girl
The Waiting Room
Don’t Take My Sunshine Away
R & B
Her – | Review Score 4/5
When it comes to binge-worthy TV, I haven’t been able to binge watch any other series quite so heavily as This Is Us. Despite its 18 episode length and run-time spanning 3/4 of the year, there’s a certain endearment with the ongoing saga of the Pearson Family that keeps things unpredictable and interesting throughout. Last year, the episode Super Bowl Sunday really typified the peak of this melodramatic series but since then, the show’s never quite reached the same lofty heights.
Still reeling from the tragic death of their Father, This Is Us’ third season lays on the drama right from the get go and refuses to relinquish it’s grip for most of the 18 episodes. With more sadness and melodrama than in previous seasons, This Is Us loses its balance slightly, losing sight of little wins and big losses that made the previous seasons so great. While there are certainly some great moments here, they feel much more infrequent than ever before.
The big talking point this year though is Vietnam. Jack’s time in the war is something that’s been briefly touched on in the past but never in any real detail. Well, this all changes this year as Kevin stumbles upon some photos of his Dad from the war, leading him in search of answers. This ultimately takes him down a dark path late on in the season, as he relapses and turns back to the drink.
Meanwhile, Kate and Toby have problems of their own and after their dramatic miscarriage last season, they turn to IVF treatment despite their slim odds of success. In a bid to try and tip the odds in their favour, Kate ditches her Adele-agram job for something closer to home while Toby goes cold turkey with the anti-depressants. This inevitably leads to some big drama late on where we learn the fate of Toby and Kate’s potential prospects of bringing a child into this world.
They’re not the only couple with problems this year. Randall and Beth have always had a pretty tight marriage but this year their commitment to one another is pushed to breaking point. Randall runs for Mayor in Philadelphia as Beth loses her job and struggles to get Randall to back down on his promises.
To make matters worse, the result of the election comes in and things between them really boil over late on in the series as Beth finds a childhood passion reignited again. The penultimate episode of the season really sees this explode into one of the best stand-alone episodes of the season, showing us the history of Beth and Randall’s whirlwind romance through the years.
Around these predominant storylines are the various flashbacks and flash-forwards that give us a glimpse of the Pearson family through the years. These work really well too, subverting our expectations for certain characters and pointing out deep flaws we never saw before – including Jack pearson. It also serves as a particularly interesting glimpse into where our characters are likely to end up in the future.
Unlike in previous seasons, This Is Us doubles down on the melodrama this year, with very little to really celebrate save for a few moments in each storyline. Even the happier moments – including Kate’s graduation and Randall’s little triumphs in his run as Mayor – are layered with sadness. At times, this makes the dialogue feel really contrived and unnatural and other times it gives the series a somewhat stifled edge to it which is a real shame.
One particularly jarring moment early on comes to mind here, which sees a man tell Kate her singing is amazing. Instead of reveling in the compliment, she quickly unloads all her deep fears and sadness around her pregnancy to this stranger. While I do understand the death of their father is something that’s been a constant black cloud for this family for a long time, when you compare the characters we saw during the first season to the depressed, pained personas we have here, it all feels a little too much.
It’s not all doom and gloom though and there are some incredibly powerful moments this season. From discovering the fate of Jack’s brother to Randall and Beth’s fight late on, This Is Us continues to show it’s not down and out yet. There’s certainly some really emotional moments dotted throughout the season but at times the writing feels like it’s trying a bit too hard to capture the magic in Super Bowl Sunday.
Having said all of that, I still have a real soft spot for this show and This Is Us certainly ends on a high. While it doesn’t quite hit the same lofty heights the first two seasons managed, there’s some fantastic episodes here and plenty to savour going forward. Given the way this one ends, it’ll be interesting to see where the show goes with its fourth season but for now, This Is Us maintains its grip as one of the better familial dramas on TV right now.