Critical Condition: This Is Us

This Is Us (TV2, 8.30 Tuesday)

“The current vogue for dramedy is raw, slightly absurd, shaky cam sitcom subversions – the indie film aesthetic of ‘authenticity’ that has become cliché to the point of bogusness. This Is Us ain’t that. In some ways, it typifies the big turn, big feel sentimentality that neo-grunge tries to deconstruct. I loved it. This is a brilliantly cast show about flawed people who care about being quality, loving human beings. How refreshing! There’s no doubt This Is Us will struggle to stay on the right side of sappiness. But the talent suggests a show capable of doing so.” — Entertainment Weekly.

“While I’d like to see another few episodes to make sure, there’s something comfortably gooey right away about This Is Us, reminding us once more that amid all the high-functioning detectives, emergency-rescue personnel and secret-agent superheroes covered in cryptic tattoos, there are very few network dramas aimed at viewers who are simply interested in everyday people and how they feel.” — The Washington Post.

“So help me, I cried. I’d almost made it through the hour-long pilot … tear-free. And then the story shifted. And then the tears sprang forth. Respect, then, to Dan Fogelman, the show’s writer and executive producer and maestro of heart strings. It’s easy to promise a tearjerker … it is considerably less easy, however, to create a piece of television—interrupted by commercial breaks, no less—that actually succeeds in eliciting a good, old-fashioned catharsis-cry. But This Is Us manufactures its Feels with a factory efficiency.” — The Atlantic.

“If you’re in the mood for emotional catharsis, you won’t have to search hard to find it in This is Us; indeed, the show could only work harder to make you cry if it could find a way to shove a freshly cut onion through the screen. The show has promise, but its cynicism in terms of trying to evoke an emotional response is both what viewers will be tuning in for and its least accomplished aspect. If it could work to wring out a real response, not just an easy one, this might be a show worth watching each week.” — Time.

“It’s hard to think of another show that is more difficult to evaluate this fall based on just the pilot than this syrupy drama about several people who share the same birthday and what they might, or might not, have in common. The initial hour ends with a reveal that sets the stage for the rest of the series, and though it’s a sweetly told little story, it’s not a great indicator of what things are going to be moving forward. The pilot is shaped primarily to deliver that twist, and unless the writers have a lot more twists up their sleeve, the weekly episodes are probably not going to be much like this first one.” — Variety.

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