More feel-good schmaltz in new season of ‘This is Us’
The second season of the hit drama series, “This is Us,” utilizes more of the same tear-jerking methods that won over viewers to its treacly but medicating family dynamics. Things become rote at this point—but there are performances that keep things interesting, predictability aside.
The further dramatic “adventures” of the sprightly Pearsons unravel in nonlinear fashion, as established in the debut season. From the clan’s struggles in the 1980s and ’90s, to its members’ familiar tribulations today, the show reveals layer upon layer of rich backstory.
The flashback segments are still about Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) raising biological kids, Kate (played by Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley), and the African-American child they adopted, Randall (Sterling K. Brown).
The scenes now are as touching as they were then, offering feel-good scenarios centering on the parents’ evolving roles. They’re warm and uplifting, but then there’s the “mystery” that was introduced last season—Jack’s death.
While the reason for the Pearson patriarch’s demise was only barely hinted at before—which fueled speculations about the untimely death—the first episode of Season Two gives a major clue.
The season opener, despite going through the motions, is memorable. Moore proves that she’s a formidable force to reckon with. After her character convinces her husband that they would beat his alcoholism together—her optimism is crushed by the end of the episode, when it jumps to the immediate aftermath of Jack’s death, seemingly caused by a fire at their home.
The show, airing on cable channel 2nd Avenue (Wednesdays, 9 p.m.), is still about the relatable struggles of the spouses, enjoyably acted by Moore and Ventimiglia, both of whom imbue their characters with uncommon charisma and verve.
Designed to tug at the most hardened heart, the show still manages to get the jaded viewer, one way or another.
This new season also gives the siblings ample opportunities to develop—Randall is considering adopting a child; Kate is thinking about a singing career; Kevin is starting to experience addiction.
These current situations are rooted in their childhood, somehow related to their parents’ own decisions or issues—Randall attempts to replicate his fortunate situation with another abandoned kid; Kate hopes to explore a music career that her more talented mom never had; Kevin apparently “inherited” his dad’s debilitating weaknesses.
The first five episodes of the new season exemplify how “This is Us” has created a clever working formula with its multiple characters, making its viewers care for them, as well as a new one who is initially unlikable.
The cathartic, therapeutic waterworks are carefully planned—we all know they’re coming, but they don’t let up, and we happily succumb to these feel-good manipulations, anyway.