Monday, September 9, 2019

TV Series Review: This Is Us - Season 3

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Performances, some storylines
Cons: Randall, and to a lesser extent Beth, this season
The Bottom Line:
Drama continues
But it begins to grow thin
With Pearson saga

“When Have We Ever Listened to People?”

When I gave in and started watching This is Us during its first season, I was quickly hooked on this family drama.  However, I felt the show took a step down in season two.  Unfortunately, it has taken another step down in season three.

If you aren’t familiar with the show, it follows the Pearson family.  In the present day, we follow the “Big Three,” triplets Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Randall (Sterling K. Brown).  However, we also flash back to the past, which allows us to see their father Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and mother Rebecca (Mandy Moore) as they attempt to raise their kids.

This season finds the family dealing with more drama.  Kate goes in for artificial insemination to get pregnant, something that is extremely risky given her age, weight, and previous miscarriage.  Fortunately, her husband Toby (Chris Sullivan) is there every step of the way.  Kevin begins to question what exactly happened to Jack during his time in Vietnam, so he heads over to that country, leading to a surprising revelation about the family.  And Randall decides to run for city council in Philadelphia even though he lives in New Jersey, leading to issues with his wife, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson).  While we get flashbacks from several different time periods, the focus this season is on Jack’s time in Vietnam and the early relationship between Jack and Rebecca.

Of course, we can’t have this show without some big mystery.  In that case, we now also get occasional glimpses of the future, and with each piece of the future we get, we get several more mysteries to be unraveled.

Frankly, that was one of my frustrations with the season.  It was one thing when they were teasing us with what happened to Jack in the past, but now we are getting strung along with what happens to the family at least a decade (possibly longer) in the future.  Seriously?  Can’t we just watch their lives unfold?  That was the beauty of the first season.  We were watching the character’s lives unfold in the present with trips to the past that allow us to understand why the characters behave the way they do today.  Now, with the future timeline, we have more timelines to keep track of and more details to remember.  And, they don’t seem to be in a rush to offer any kind of resolution to this either.

Then there is Randall and Beth.  Personally, I don’t think you should be able to run for office unless you actually physically live some place, and I think there should be a minimum residency as well (something I’ve been saying for a while).  So right there, I was struggling with his storyline for the season.  Then there’s the fact that he and Beth started fighting over this decision.  Honestly, he was a jerk, although Beth wasn’t completely innocent either (which is real life).  Their fighting was prolonged and really took the joy out of the second half of the season.

So what did I like?  Kate’s storyline was at times scary, but mostly sweet this season.  While some of the revelations that came out of Kevin’s Vietnam trip made me role my eyes at just how soap opera the show has become, I mostly enjoyed it.  And I really enjoyed Kevin’s relationship with his new girlfriend, Zoe (Melanie Liburd).

And the acting is still outstanding.  Seriously, this cast is exceptionally talented, and they pull you into each moment of the show.  Yes, the writers are still making us tear up each week, but the cast gets credit for making those moments seem to real for us.

Once again, the season consists of sixteen episodes, each of them designed to pull you into the Pearson family drama.

With as good as the first season was, I hate to give up completely on This is Us, but I am seriously debating if I want to continue beyond season three.  While there are still some enjoyable aspects to the show, the melodrama and introduction of the future mystery has taken some of the joy out of watching the show.

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