This Is Us is an American television drama series created by Dan Fogelman that premiered on NBC on September 20, 2016. The series stars an ensemble cast featuring Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Sullivan, Ron Cephas Jones, Jon Huertas, Alexandra Breckenridge, Niles Fitch, Logan Shroyer, Hannah Zeile, Mackenzie Hancsicsak, Parker Bates, Lonnie Chavis, Eris Baker, and Faithe Herman. The program details the lives and families of a father and mother, and their three children born on the same day as their father's birthday.
On September 27, 2016, NBC picked up the series for a full season of eighteen episodes. In January 2017, NBC renewed the series for two additional seasons of 18 episodes each. The second season premiered on September 26, 2017. Two more seasons were ordered bringing a total of three seasons through 2019. On May 12, 2019, NBC renewed the series for three additional seasons. Season 5 was premiered on October 27, 2020.
The series follows siblings Kevin, Kate, and Randall Pearson (known as "The Big Three") as their lives intertwine, and their parents Jack and Rebecca Pearson. It is shown in both present-day and in flashbacks.
Kevin and Kate are the two surviving members of a triplet pregnancy, conceived after Super Bowl XIV at "Froggy's" in Pittsburgh. Their due date is October 12, 1980, but they are born six weeks early on August 31 (Jack's birthday); their biological brother Kyle Pearson is stillborn. After losing their third baby, Jack and Rebecca decide to adopt Randall, a black child born the same day, and brought to the same hospital after his biological father abandons him at a fire station.
Episodes weave through the stories of the past and present of the characters, with most scenes taking place in four periods: c.1980–1981, c.1988–1990, c.1995–1998, and the present day (2016–2018). Most flashback scenes occur in Pittsburgh, where the "Big Three" are born and raised. Current scenes are typically split among Los Angeles, New Jersey, and New York City. In each episode, most flashback scenes, relate to current scenes, shows Jack, who dies when the "Big Three" are 17—and Rebecca when they are either babies, ages 8–10, or ages 15–17.
Cast and Characters
- Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson
- Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson
- Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson
- Chrissy Metz as Kate Pearson
- Justin Hartley as Kevin Pearson
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired (U.S. dates)|
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||18||September 20, 2016||March 14, 2017|
|2||18||September 26, 2017||March 13, 2018|
|3||18||September 25, 2018||April 2, 2019|
|4||18||September 24, 2019||March 24, 2020|
|5||18||October 27, 2020||May 25, 2021|
This is Us originally began as an 80-page movie script that Dan Fogelman was developing while working for ABC Studios in the spring of 2015. The storyline, which Fogelman admitted to not having a definite direction, revolved around the lives of eight adults who, as it would be revealed, were octuplets. After moving to an eight-figure deal with 20th Television, Fogelman made the decision to develop a TV series from the characters of his original script, cutting a few characters and shortening the script to 45 pages before bringing it to the studio.
Jennifer Salke, president at NBC, commented on the conception of a title for the series, saying "The title didn't come easy...but This Is Us tapped into everything, and the show's about us." It has been revealed that other ideas for the title included 36, Happy Birthday, and The Story of Us. Despite positive reviews from both 20th Television and sister company, Fox, there were concerns regarding the lack of views it would attract on the network, leading Fox to sell it to NBC.
Fox did so because NBC promised to use the high volume of viewers from The Voice and the Summer Olympics to bring additional viewers to the series, and Fox wanted to solidify the reputation of its studio among writers and directors as placing shows where they are most likely to succeed, even if it is not Fox. On September 27, 2016, NBC picked up the series for a full season of 18 episodes. In January 2017, NBC renewed the series for two additional seasons of 18 episodes each. The second season premiered on September 26, 2017. The third season premiered on September 25, 2018. In May 2019, NBC renewed the series for three additional seasons. The fourth season premiered on September 24, 2019. The fifth season premiered on October 27, 2020.
In addition to Los Angeles, some scenes are also shot on location in New York City. In the first season, once Kevin has moved to New York, one can recognize some of its sights. In episode 7 for example, the refurbished Commodore Criterion building at the crossing of Broadway and 5th Avenue serves as the background for the scene where Kevin ends up in a fight with his brother.
Commitment to Diversity
Fogelman intentionally recruited behind-the-scenes talent that would reflect the diversity of his cast, with the goal of bringing greater authenticity to the dialog and storylines. These include black directors Regina King and George Tillman Jr. and black female writers Kay Oyegun and Jas Waters (part of a 30% black core writing staff that far outpaces the industry standard of 5%). In addition, Fogelman's sister Deborah, whose struggles with weight were one of the initial inspirations for the show, serves as a consultant.
The series has received positive reviews since its premiere, and has been nominated for Best Television Series – Drama at the 74th Golden Globe Awards and Best Drama Series at the 7th Critics' Choice Awards, as well as being chosen as a Top Television Program by the American Film Institute. Sterling K. Brown has received an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Critics' Choice Award, and an NAACP Image Award for his acting in the series. Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz received Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress. In 2017, the series received ten Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series, with Brown winning for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
In May 2017, Hulu acquired the SVOD rights to new and past episodes of the series to air exclusively on Hulu, in addition to NBC.com and the NBC app.
Notes and Trivia
- The show was originally titled '36,' which is the age the three main characters are turning at the beginning.
- Sterling K. Brown, Denis O'Hare, Chrissy Metz, and Alexandra Breckenridge have all appeared in TV shows produced by Ryan Murphy. Brown was in American Crime Story (2016). O'Hare, Metz, and Breckenridge were in American Horror Story (2011).