I’ve just ended to watch a famous TV show: “This is Us”. Don’t you know about it? Then my advice for you is to watch it, unless you can’t stand time warps in the plot, mushiness, and inclusion. Without mentioning hot topics like alcoholism, domestic abuse, and the Vietnam war.

A bit too much? Maybe, I must admit though, that everything flows smoothly. The attention is kept high and twists are not missing, being the introduction of a new character, the end of a relationship or a birth.

Let’s start from the beginning, although I don’t mean to spoiler the whole story. “This is Us” tells the story of 3 generations of the same family, and it’s told braiding the events starting from the 70ies, through the 90ies till nowadays (including the pandemics) and straight to an alleged future. That’s the reason why I was referring to time warps: because the events of the parents intertwine with those of children and nephews.

It’s the story of a young white couple, Jack and Rebecca Pearson, with their 3 children, one of which, Randall, was adopted the very same day in which Rebecca gave birth to Kevin and Kate. Randall is black, the others are white, together they are “The Big Three”. It’s the tale of 5 persons whose vicissitudes include different themes:  the difficulties beneath being a black child in a family of white people, the desperate search for the biological parents till a meeting with them happens (virtual or not). 

The obstacles lying beneath one’s physical appearance and obesity. The struggle to be accepted although being not the perfect daughter or the perfect girl. The challenges connected to the handicap of a son, which will become the source for professional growth and for a newfound sentimental happiness after the failure of a wedding. The spasmodic pursuit for success, for a carrier, that led to burn and ruin real relationships, leading to a solitary lonely life and to alcoholism.

These are the stories and the features of “The Big Three”, that is the Leitmotiv of all the six seasons of the show.

These two things hit me the most: a monologue made by Randall about time ticking out and the depiction of the death, shown in the last-but-one episode.

Let’s speak about the first, assuming that Randall is the character that I found the most sappy and pedantic, sometimes even annoying. But in the final stages of his mother’s life, he makes a consideration about how time runs out, about how this looks slower in infancy and then it gets quicker and quicker, until we are unable to manage it. We are left before the ruthless separation from loved ones, with all the related questionings: should I have had dedicated them more time? May I somehow catch up time?

Furthermore, adult life burdens us also of the sons’ time, using our time to let them carry out their activities. But on the other hand, growing up, we love to fill our time, as we don’t want to get bored. We don’t know how to get bored anymore. That’s why summer times were longer, when we were young: because we were not afraid to spend some time, by getting bored. And what’s boredom after all? A hassle needed to appreciate the “whole time”? A pause in the daily rush? One of those rare situations, that leaves you numb, maybe even doubtful: do I really have nothing to do? Have I done all things? Oh boy, how annoying this stage fright! Let’s get back to childhood, when even sitting on a field in the scorching sun and peeling flowers, was “whole time”.

Just like the season finale suggests, our train has left, we don’t know when it gets to its final destination, nor how many wagons it counts. The most important thing is that in every single wagon there is an affection, a loved one, somebody that shares with us a piece of the journey. Somebody that, when we are at the very last wagon, awaits and accompanies us to the final stop. Somebody reassuring and who embraces us. The important thing is that, looking back, we are not only aware of how long our train is, but also of how many passengers shared the journey. How the journey was full of tears, hugs, smiles, maybe noisy, but alive. And how the train slows down smoothly, by getting close to the station and leaving us time to get bored, for good.

To conclude, here comes the track sung by Mandy Moore (as Rebecca Pearson), which reprises the main theme of the series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wC5VQkMP0Ko

By Cinzia Costi

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