When Parenthood concluded in 2015, it left a gaping hole in broadcast television. It was the last gasp of a time long lost to the modern era of marketing and branding that requires every show have some giant hook that gets viewers tuning in from day one.
Except for sharing its title with a little remembered Ron Howard film, there was nothing super-marketable about the series. It was a show about normal people dealing with normal problems. Now, NBC is hoping to fill the hole with their newest drama, THIS IS US.
Created by Dan Fogelman, This is Us follows the lives of multiple individuals that share the commonality of having the same birthday. Through their eyes, we see four very different lives play out. They are challenging, heartwarming, sad and sweet... much like life itself.
This is Us is a rare breed of show that’s found a way to have compelling storytelling in a very minimalistic hook. Watching the tales of Kevin, Kate, Randall, Jack and his wife Rebecca brings instant “feels” that are sure to attract an audience the same way Parenthood did during the first half of the decade. The real trouble will come in trying to explain the show without ruining it.
It’s hard to talk about why the series is worth watching without going into spoilers, but there is drama. There are hooks. There are reasons to come back every week. This is a show that, in success, will be able to show Hollywood at large there’s still an audience for drama about the everyday lives of people trying to be normal. In the case of This is Us, the only outlandish thing about these people is how well off they are financially. That’s it. However, that can be easily explained by saying they worked for their wealth - then they will remain 100% relatable.
What we have in This is Us is a very sweet drama about nothing, and it’s great. It’s nice to be seeing a show that just wants to examine people. However, just because the premise is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s not compelling. This is a show people are going to want to watch. More importantly, this is a show people need right now. As long as the quality of its storytelling remains as strong as it does in the pilot, we could have a very worthy successor to Parenthood’s former glory on our hands.
This is Us premieres September 20th at 10/9c on NBC (USA).
Network Ten & affiliates will air This Is Us in Australia later in 2016.