Last night I watched the first episode of This Is Us on Tenplay.
I started watching it in the usual way I consume all TV these days, with my mobile phone in one hand and my eyes flicking between my TV screen and my Facebook newsfeed.
But after a few minutes I put my phone down. I put my phone down and I allowed myself to be sucked into the This Is Us world.
There was something about this new drama that made me pay attention.
The show centres around four main characters who are all turning 36. That might not seem like a significant number, but as someone first approaching their mid-thirties, I can tell you 36 seems like a deadline. An age when you need to have your shit together.
And that’s a feeling that is shared by the show’s four integral players.
There’s Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), whose wife Rebecca (played by Mandy Moore) goes into labour with triplets on his 36th birthday. We follow Jack and Rebecca’s story throughout the episode and find out that one of the triplets is stillborn.
We are then gifted with a heartwarming cameo by Gerald McRaney, who plays Rebecca’s OB-GYN. With homespun eloquence and a twist on the “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” adage, McRaney’s character plants the seeds for Jack and Rebecca to find something life-affirming in tragedy. It’s the kind of speech that simultaneously makes you want to grab life by the balls and cry into your couch cushion for the rest of the night.