Dan Fogelman’s “This is Us” is one of the best shows that television has ever seen. It promotes diversity and has a captivating storyline that is guaranteed to make you feel emotions you probably didn’t even know you had. The central focus of the show surrounds the lives of the children of Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca Pearson (Mandy Moore). Their children, commonly known as the “Big Three,” are Kate (Chrissy Metz), Kevin and Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown), whose lives are intertwined, and yet, as we all do, they each have their respective issues as well as varying methods for how they cope with said issues.

The show frequently provides a juxtaposition between the past and the present, which is a strong component of what keeps the show interesting. The topics of the show include but are not limited to race relations, alcoholism, drug abuse, the death of a husband/father, obesity, adoption, love, heartbreak, anxiety, depression, therapy forgiveness and so much more.

Following a three-week hiatus, “This is Us,” which airs on NBC, returned under the backdrop of Las Vegas, where Kate and her fiancé Toby (Chris Sullivan) celebrated their last days as an unmarried couple. The hiatus was a welcomed break for its regular viewers. Jack, who is everyone’s dream husband/father, died when the “Big Three” were high school seniors. We knew he died; however, it wasn’t until Jan. 27, 2018 that we found out the intricacies surrounding his untimely death, tragic funeral and the family’s grieving process. It was so emotionally charged that Twitter was abuzz for weeks with comments surrounding what could/should have been done to prevent his death.

This week’s episode, like the others that came before it, does not disappoint. While episode 16 wasn’t nearly as exciting and gut-punching as the previous two episodes were, it didn’t need to be. The underlying messages in this week’s episode were almost as powerful as finally finding out the reason Jack died.

The episode begins with a flashback of the quixotic and impulsive Jack continuously upstaging Rebecca in terms of anniversary gifts. I mean, come on, we all need a Jack Pearson in our lives, don’t we? Finally, after years of being upstaged, Rebecca tells Jack that she no longer wants to exchange gifts because she can never measure up to him. Begrudgingly, he agrees, only for the Big Three to plan something for them instead. The anniversary goes well and the two realize that although they missed giving gifts to each other, the best gift they could’ve received was each other.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that giving material things is integral to keeping the one you love happy that we sometimes forget that genuine love doesn’t beg for material things; it’s knowing that someone loves you more than anything, and that knowledge is worth more than all the presents in the world.

In present day, Randall and Beth are having issues in their relationship that stem from Randall being overzealous and Beth being quite the opposite. The two have a heated argument at Kate’s bachelorette party that ruins the night for everyone, especially Kate. The argument opens up issues that have never been exposed before. Between Kate’s hidden jealously over Beth, and Beth attesting to being tired of constantly dealing with Randall’s anxiety, you’re forced to drop your jaw and wonder what in the world just happened.

The occurrence at the party opened up a lot of room for dialogue as well. Following Kate’s discussion with Beth, she finds that all that glitters is not gold. She had somehow come up with this idea that Beth loved her life and was abundantly happy, which is not Beth’s reality. Kate’s feelings towards Beth are a direct mirror of our current society, especially in our social media-driven world. People tend to think that how the world is portrayed is how people feel about it, which is seldom the case. Kate and Beth’s storyline serve as a reminder that it’s important to get to know people and their story before you pass judgment.

While there was an abundance of knowledge sprinkled throughout this week’s episode, those two facets were the ones that stuck out for me. Episode 16 showcases the truth about love, which is that love isn’t always beautiful, happy, equal and drama-free. This episode exposes the beautiful, the ugly and the in-between of love, which is why it’s just as important as the prior two episodes. In a way, I think the storyline was created to remind Kate and Toby that marriage and love is a lot like a vacation to Las Vegas—it’s such a beautiful place to be, but it’s not called Sin City for nothing.

Danaé Reid is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in African American Studies. ✉ DR822867@wcupa.edu.

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