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7 important life lessons learned from 'This Is Us'

Elizabeth Wellington, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Entertainment News

"This Is Us," NBC's tear-jerker of a drama about the fictional Pittsburgh-based Pearson family, aired its series finale earlier this week.

The premise of the Emmy-award winning show, created by Dan Fogelman, is we are all connected. Chance encounters with strangers shape our future in ways we may never understand. I came to the show in the second season, curious about why my Facebook friends were crying every week.

Come on, nothing on network television can that intense, I thought. What I found was an accurate portrayal of a family that loved each other, yet still tiptoed around each other. After all, it's hard to be your authentic self when you constantly feel like you are coming up short. But when the emotional breakthroughs happened — and there was one every week — tears of relief flowed and flowed and flowed.

For those who missed out on this cultural phenomenon, here's the plot: A white couple, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore), become the parents of triplets back in the early 1980s. Only two of the babies — Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Kate (Chrissy Metz) — live. A Black baby, Randall (Sterling K. Brown), is abandoned at the hospital that same night, and a doctor convinces Jack and Rebecca to adopt him.

Throughout the six-season series, the Pearsons deal with the sadness and joy of birth and deaths; marriages and divorce; and successes and failure. The story jumps in time and covers almost 100 years in the Pearson family, flashing back to scenes from Jack's childhood in the 1950s and forward to Kate son's Jack's adulthood in the somewhere in the 2040s.

We see the relationship between the Pearson children and their parents develop at pivotal moments in their childhood and as young adults, as well as having to deal with their mother's decline from Alzheimer's disease when the kids are middle-aged. We learn Jack and Rebecca's back story and witness how generational trauma, coupled with Jack's death, formed the foundation of Randall's anxiety, Kevin's alcoholism and Kate's self-esteem issues.

 

Our stories are deeply connected to those of our ancestors, whether we know them or not. This is when the show is at its most moving.

Each Tuesday — during the era when binging replaced appointment TV — we tweeted, we wept while we faithfully watched the Pearsons' journey.

Although it officially came to an end on Tuesday, I know it will live in perpetuity on streaming apps and family friendly channels like "Little House on the Prairie," "ER" and other seminal television shows.

Here are seven reasons why "This Is Us" touched me deeply, the life lessons it demonstrated and the scenes that will stay with me.

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