Like many of us, I have done my fair share of crying while watching This Is Us. Damn, talk about serving up some raw emotions! Why is that? Why is it that this show reduces us to ugly crying so easily? It’s real life, that’s why. It touches on all those deeply held insecurities and emotions and family situations that we all have dealt with in some way.
It’s no surprise that the executive producer and director is Ken Olin. Remember him? He played Michael Steadman on the show thirtysomething, which happens to have made its debut thirtysomething years ago. He also began his directing career on the show. So, yeah, big fat surprise that a show 30 years ago that grabbed people by the heartstrings with its raw, real life scenarios has been, in some ways, resurrected by the man. In its own way, it’s thirtysomething (with a dose of sixtysomething) all over again.
But that’s not the real point of the post. Most people will look forward to the show’s weekly airing but I…I’m more of a binge watcher. I hate those cliff hangers and having to wait until the next week to continue the story. It’s like reading a great book and having to put it down for a week after ever chapter. No bueno. So I set the DVR and then spend a few nights watching the whole season in big chunks. And I finally wrapped up season 2 this week. Oy. Vey.
I had, of course, seen posts from friends about all the ugly crying they were doing each week so I was prepared. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was what I actually cried over. If you haven’t watched the season in its entirety yet and plan to, now would be the time that you should quit reading because I’m going to spoil it all for you.
Look, we all knew that Jack was going to die. We all knew we were going to have watch that in whatever way they presented it to us. So, yeah, that was tough to handle, but it was expected. What made me ugly cry and wipe snot on my shirtsleeve, though, was the Superbowl episode where the family is all experiencing that 20 year anniversary of his death in their own ways.
Kate is angrily demanding to be left to her ritualistic self blame. Randall is over the top celebrating his father’s favorite day. Kevin is trying to figure out just what to do since he won’t be binge drinking and banging a model. And Rebecca is waiting for her sign. This, my friends, is all of us. Because, really, it doesn’t look all that different than the ways that many of us deal with anniversaries of grief. That is not what made me ugly cry, though.
No, it was that in this episode they all finally walk through their own personal “fire” and come out the other side. They learn to let go of what they thought they needed from the day. They all said, “You know what? I’m ready to live in this moment instead of that one.” They all realized that they were still standing.
For me, that is one of the most beautiful parts of life – when we realize that what was meant to break us has not. It creates a cosmic shift within us. It releases guilt and anger and shame and a host of other emotions. Most importantly, it allows us to open ourselves up to all the wonderful things that the universe has to offer us that we’ve closed ourselves off to before.
We’ve all experienced loss. Whether it is the actual loss of a loved one or the loss of a dream, a relationship, a job, or whatever, where are you standing? Are you standing at the edge of the fire paralyzed? If you are, there’s absolutely no shame in that. We all do it. But are you just going to stand there for the rest of your life until it all just consumes you? Or will you walk through the fire? You will come out the other side. You will. It’s not just the “strong” people that do. It’s not just those that are “unafraid”. Believe me, we’re all afraid whether we call it that or not.
This is all of us. This is what we can all experience for ourselves if we’re willing to let go of the weight we think we’re obligated to carry. You know the ugly crying you did when you watched that episode and celebrated each one of them coming through their own fires (you know you did so don’t lie)? That’s for you, too.
Walk through the fire, sister. You’ll come through it. You will. There’s more to your story. Trust me. Your next season is just around the corner.