Flashbacks, flash forwards, alternate realities…no, this isn’t a review of Lost.
By Review Staff
What do you get when you throw together a family with three kids — two white (a narcissistic TV star, an obese woman), and one African-American? With ratings in the double-digits for network TV, you get a hit, baby! This Is Us came on like gangbusters in its freshman season for NBC in 2016-2017, despite average promotion at first from the network (it’s always the lesser-hyped shows that break out, isn’t it?).
So what was it that connected with the masses?
For those who watched, it was a combination of good writing, expert direction, superb performances, and a surprisingly non-preachy approach that drew in viewers of all stripes, from the coasts to middle America, helping the show break wide and gain critical acclaim.
In 1980 Pittsburgh, party couple Jack (Milo Ventimiglia, Heroes, Gilmore Girls) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore, Tangled) do the deed in the Froggy’s Bar restroom during Super Bowl XIV (Go Steelers!), resulting in (OMG!) triplets! Due in the fall, the threesome is born premature, resulting in one not making it, but a chance encounter with a man who happened to find a stray left at his fire house doorstep results in the couple adopting a third baby (they were bringing home three babies, damn it!).
Fast forward to present day, the three siblings’ lives are documented, running parallel to Jack and Rebecca’ lives via flashbacks…a device so expertly used that you often can’t tell the difference between what’s going on today versus what “happened” in 1980 and 1989-1999 (the years, roughly, that the flashbacks take place). The siblings, Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown), are a messy bunch, which is perhaps why TV audiences were so engaged with the drama surrounding their lives — they were all relatable.
Sterling K. Brown’s overachieving Randall is the focal part of the series. An African-American man growing up a foster child in an all white family, Randall stresses himself out to the point of illness, a trait he’s had since childhood, always trying to live up to (and exceed) all expectations. His pursuit of perfection is what ails him, and it’s in stark contrast with the ailments of his siblings (Kate’s obesity, Kevin’s neediness). His longing to know the true story about his past is what drives him. Who are his biological parents? Why is everything so…easy for him? His season-long arc getting to know his biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones), is a season highlight, and the major arc of This Is Us‘s first season.
Kate Pearson (Chrissy Metz) ping-pongs the viewer between loving her, hating her, feeling sorry for her, and hating her again. She’s overweight and her battle with obesity is likely a strong pull for viewers who relate with the struggle of weight loss (she meets her fiance at an overeater anonymous-type club). Metz’s ability to make you want to root for her character while simultaneously annoying the sh*t out of you is nothing short of brilliant, with critics and viewers alike agreeing (she nabbed an Emmy nom for her performance).
If there’s a weakest link in This Is Us, it’s the Kevin Pearson character, the stereotypical white, handsome, chiseled all-American male (of course he was the high school football star). He wound up an actor, even scoring the lead in a minor hit TV show called “The Manny.” But that notoriety pains him as he seeks fulfillment and more “serious” endeavors by moving from Hollywood to NYC to hook up with the theater. I vacillated between loving and hating the character because the problem in this first season is that the writers can’t figure out what to do with him. What’s his overall story? Why does it feel like filler when his story is front and center? When you expect him to become the “bad boy” of the show, he turns around and is likeable again (he’s always apologizing for his tough-guy “fronting”). One thing the character does do well is act as a confidant to Kate, which I suppose is common in twins. He comes across as needy and attention-seeking, which I suspect will play into the future of his character as it gets fleshed out in future seasons.
The glue holding together these threads is the parents, Jack and Rebecca, whom we only see together via flashbacks. Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) is the prototypical All-American Dad; he’s there for his children, never loses his temper, is patient, and loves wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) to a fault. But is he perfect? The set-up is key here, as the writers make you believe in this flawless character only to make his fall from grace that much more dramatic. (SPOILER ALERT) The fact that he’s dead from the beginning makes his flashback scenes that much more intriguing, and about his death? Nobody knows how it happened (yet), and that’s part of This Is Us‘s mystery element.
The terrific Mandy Moore plays Rebecca Pearson with nice dramatic shading. She’s at once sexy, alluring and motherly, also exhibiting traits of perceived perfectionism, like adopted son Randall. But she carries a secret she’s held onto for decades, and once it comes out, perceptions (her kids’ and viewers’) of her change, making you wonder if what she’s done was justified or heinous (these types of quandaries are what drive This Is Us, creating realistic, believable situations that force the viewer to ask, “what would I do in this situation?”).
This Is Us is easy to watch, which is good for a broadcast network show’s ability to cater to a mass audience (versus a niche, like cable or internet shows), and is entirely bingeable (a friend told me she has to wait for several episodes to air before she sits down to watch them, marathon-style, because “just one isn’t satisfying.”). It’s easy to digest in small or large viewings, and its real-ness makes it relatable.
One thing I’ve noticed in various literature about the show is that it’s often described as a “drama/comedy” hybrid, or a “dramedy.” Why? The program is strictly drama, but it’s so “real” that, like in your own real life, there are moments of laughter and lighter moments. In the real world, there are people you know who are naturally funny, or regular folk who are occasionally humorous with something they say or do. So it is with This Is Us. For example, Randall is one of the most serious characters I’ve ever seen on TV, but he has a refreshing sense of humor that makes the character three-dimensional. But “comedy” isn’t how I would describe it.
The show proved so popular that critics took notice as well. It received 10 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series (Sterling K. Brown won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series). It’s not often an award-heavy program resonates with the masses, and even more rare today for a broadcast network (which is limited in its use of language and content, and has to be written with commercial-break stoppages in mind) to get so much love from both critics and viewers.
But it’s not without an occasional head-scratcher. Why are opening titles displayed so far into the episode? In one episode, the “cold open” lasted almost half the episode before the title screen and opening credits were displayed. As for the characterizations, the moment you ask yourself, “Why are there no gay characters on this show?”, it throws one into the mix out of left field (I’ve heard friends variously opine that the decision was either genius or it was just plain odd…). And unless I missed an important scene, why does Jack just go along with baby #3’s name change to Randall without asking his wife why, or discussing it first?
But these are minor quibbles that are quickly forgotten, as evidenced by its average 14.7 weekly viewers, making it television’s sixth-most watched show in the Nielsen ratings for the season, and much of the credit for that can be attributed to the terrific supporting cast and guest turns.
Worthy of discussion are Kate’s boyfriend (and later fiance), Toby (Chris Sullivan), a jokester Kate meets at her “overeaters anonymous”-style club and begins dating, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), Randall’s wife (if you think Randall is the “perfect” one, think again…Beth is the only character on this show who has her sh*t together), and William (Ron Cephas Jones), Randall’s biological father, who steals every scene he’s in with a Morgan Freeman-like, fatherly presence, which contrasts his hard-knock life of drugs and booze he lived prior to meeting his biological son. (Scenes featuring Randall and William, or Randall and Beth for that matter, are some of the most tear-inducing scenes of the season.)
At first, I found myself thinking it’s confusing jumping from one era to the other, but on second thought, I found it to be expertly done with precision, and amazed at how much I wasn’t confused by the jumping around. The jumbled timelines are crafted into a surprisingly tight, compelling narrative.
This Is Us is stripped down, simple drama, reminiscent of a simpler time, when these kinds of domestic issues made us sad in our own lives, but they were the only ones we knew about (before today’s age of fighting about politics and social media trolling).
It’s a show about shapes, sizes and colors, and how they can all share the same space despite their differences.
Pilot (September 20, 2016)
We meet Jack & his pregnant wife, Rebecca, who’s about to pop while pregnant with triplets, but not before her annual “sexy dance” for Jack on his 36th birthday. Obese Kate is also turning 36. Is she scared to step on the scale because of her weight, or because she might trip, fall, and break her ankle? It won’t matter when she meets fine hunk-o-meat Toby at the over-eaters gathering. In contrast, her actor brother Kevin is so ungrateful (he has a hot bod and a starring role on a sitcom, The Manny) that he trashes the set and quits on his 36th birthday. African-American businessman Randall, also turning 36, tracks down his biological dad, which appears to drive him nuts by episode’s end. And when did Gerald McRaney, as 73-year-old Dr. Nathan Katowski, become the best damn actor on television? (Back in the 80s on Simon & Simon, of course, but he’s stellar here!) Only at the end of the hour do we learn that we’re watching different timelines simultaneously, the significance of everyone’s age (36), and why one of Rebecca’s triplets is a black man. This Is Us sprints off the staring blocks with a fantastic, well written & acted opening episode. Added bonus: The opening scene of This Is Us features Milo Ventimiglia dropping his towel and exposing his muscular, bare buttocks. You’re welcome, ladies.
The Big Three (September 27, 2016)
The honeymoon’s over as we begin to see cracks in relationships that looked solid-as-concrete in the series opener. Daddy Jack likes beer (lots of beer), and that causes a rift with wifey Rebecca in 1980. Beth realizes she has to exhibit the necessary balls to deal with Randall’s biological father, William, who’s been shacking up in the spare room. Kevin continues to annoy, ungrateful for his starring role in The Manny and the easy-street paycheck. Guest star Katey Sagal (as Kevin’s Hollywood agent) tries to convince him of just how good he has it. Poor Kate continues to struggle with her weight, but with Toby around, they’re having the most fun on this show (at least when she’s not thinking about her weight. And Toby is growing on me…who gives a sh*t about weight? Let’s get drunk and eat!) And who the hell is present-day Rebecca married to in the final scene!?
Kyle (October 11, 2016)
Everyone’s starting to get emo, turning into the This Is Us we know. Randall’s can’t help but try to save his former junkie biological father William, but that’s just his nature, don’tcha know? (Both his wife and adopted mom have made this clear to William now.) All this leads up to learning how Randall got his name. Kevin finally shows some redeemable qualities, putting sister Kate’s feelings above his own when he decides to make the move to New York (“We’re twins; we can’t be apart,” she says. “Oh yes we can, sis; you’re fired.”) Speaking of Kate, just as she’s about to go on my sh*t list, she wises up and realizes she’s got something good in Toby (but damn, dude, settle down with the grand gestures already…you got this one in the bag). Added bonus: Mandy Moore breastfeeds not once, but twice in this episode….to hell with you, network television standards & practices.
The Pool (October 18, 2016)
Racism. Bullying. Fat shaming… Just another day at the public pool in ’86. And it’s a doozy of a trip for the Pearsons! 6-year-old Randall disappears (he’s hanging with kids with the same skin color). 6-year-old Kate disappears (she’s hiding out after some fat-shaming/bullying from some other kids). 6-year-old Kevin disappears (he chases a football into the pool and almost drowns, foreshadowing his need for attention when he chews out his dad for not keeping an eye on him). Meanwhile, Randall’s biological dad, William, is mistaken for a prowler (more racism) while Randall & Beth’s daughter gets laughed at for playing Snow White in the school play (more racism). Good-natured jokester Toby gets real with Kate (he wasn’t always fat!), but Kate doesn’t help matters by getting all jelly over his hottie ex-wife and (gasp!) taking a position at her store! Meanwhile, Kevin nabs a role in the stage play he auditions for in New York thanks to his The Manny fame, much to the chagrin of theater star Olivia (a fun, snooty turn by Janet Montgomery). With all these bullies running around, you just want to kick these kids in the teeth (but then you stop & realize, no…it’s the parents you’d like to kick in the teeth.) The last of a good opening 4 episodes written by series creator Dan Fogelman before letting others take over for a while. So this is the world we live in, ladies & gentlemen, This Is Us.
The Game Plan (October 25, 2016)
It’s Super Bowl XIV, and Jack & Rebecca are fighting over whether they should have kids. But it’s hard to think about kiddos when you’re the best damn bar singer in town — Rebecca sings! (Of course she does; she’s Mandy Moore!) But since the twins wind up being conceived that night, it explains Kate’s weird fascination with the Steelers game in the present day. (And way to go, dopey Toby, trying everything in your power to ruin the experience for her.) Kevin overstays his welcome at Randall & Beth’s in New York, but he gets to bond with his nieces and William when Randall & Beth go out for an “adult night,” which Beth ruins by revealing she might be pregnant. Damn, everyone is getting it on in this show!
Career Days (November 1, 2016)
Everyone gets new jobs, and boy are they a-suckin’. Kate thinks she’s Marin’s new high powered personal assistant, but winds up babysitting Marin’s (not so) little brat daughter, Jemma. Kevin can’t act his way out of a wet paper sack without attending a fake funeral to get the emotive juices flowing. And Randall, who’s good at his job and enjoys it, can’t explain it to a bored audience at his daughter’s school’s career day (if only he was a cool musician like his biological father, William). All this is juxtaposed with 1986 daddy Jack, who struggles with the transition from grunt construction worker to suit-and-tie cubicle dweller. This episode, the series’ sixth, marked the low point of the season, ratings-wise (8.46 million viewers), after which the show began a gradual climb, eventually solidifying its place as a critical darling and legitimate hit.
The Best Washing Machine in the World (November 15, 2016)
This Is Us moves its flashbacks ahead about a decade, with the kids’ high school years now being depicted. Kevin’s a total d*ck to Randall as they get into a present day physical confrontation, mirroring their fight as teens on opposing football teams in high school. And what’s up with Kevin and Randall’s teammates? Can anyone throw a block for Kevin? And can any defender other than Randall tackle Kevin? Speaking of losing, Kate and Toby bond over…food. Meanwhile, William & Beth bond over pot brownies, much to William’s regret after he spills a 36-year-old secret. Somehow, this all plays out to an analogy about Rick & Rebecca’s piece-of-crap early ’80s washing machine, which somehow keeps on running.
Pilgrim Rick (November 22, 2016)
It’s Thanksgiving for the Pearson family, & we learn where a lot of the pain, animosity, & quirkiness comes from for these characters. The family, circa 1980, road trips it to granny’s, but they crash the SUV into a fence when a tire blows. (C’mon guys, it’s 1980; why is everyone wearing seat belts?) After a long hike, they wind up at a gas station/diner (did you see that dude’s crazy eyes? Poor kids; might as well have been Halloween) before settling into an old shack of a cabin. And since they’re gonna miss the proper family Thanksgiving celebration, they make their own, including serving Thanksgiving cheese dogs (hot dogs, cheese slices & crushed crackers warmed by the cabin heater’s pilot light), watching a Police Academy sequel (the only VHS tape they could find at the cabin, but I approve), & meeting “Pilgrim Rick,” the goofy clerk dressed in a pilgrim’s hat & carrying a musket to entertain Thanksgiving guests. Naturally, these traditions are carried forward to 2016, as the now-adult Pearsons celebrate their most memorable holiday. But since it’s This Is Us, all is not well; Kevin convinces theater friend Olivia to join him for Thanksgiving, where we learn she has some of the same emo hang-ups that he has (must be an actor thing?); Rebecca’s new hubby Miguel wants to be Pilgrim Rick this year, but Kevin’s not sure he wants to let step-daddy in on the fun (and how about Rebecca & Miguel’s “aging” makeup? I had to look it up to see if it really was Mandy Moore & Jon Huertas–terrific!); Randall learns a devastating family secret before the others can tell him first; and Kate arrives in the midst of all this with a bombshell of her own. Expertly scripted by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger (with direction from Sarah Pia Anderson), the episode is an excellent showcase for This Is Us‘s best qualities. Kevin’s guest Olivia sums up the shenanigans properly at the end: “You’re family’s amazing.”
The Trip (November 29, 2016)
Randall is devastated over the fallout of learning his mama Rebecca knew his biological father William his entire life. Will Randall get over it? Should he get over it? How would you feel? The episode does a good job showing how complicated the issue is…it ain’t black and white, for sure. The siblings’ trip to the old cabin brings out memories and emotions, along with extra fuel from Olivia, who brings her ex-boyfriend and her theater friend with her, much to Kevin’s chagrin (& his siblings’ disgust). Kate finds out some things about herself thanks to some straight talk from Olivia, but it’s nothing compared to Randall’s “trip” outside the cabin, where he talks to his long-dead father, Jack. Because that’s what happens when you eat shrooms.
Last Christmas (December 6, 2016)
It’s Christmastime, & if ever there was a family in need of some spiked nog, it’s the Pearsons. Helen Hunt directs this holiday-themed episode, the series’ last of the year before it returned over a month later in early January 2017, & it’s a twister of a drama. Good stuff all around as 6-year-old Kate deals with appendicitis at the same time an ailing Dr. K is waiting for emergency surgery following car crash (always good to see Gerald McRaney). After Thanksgiving shenanigans that saw star actress Olivia quitting the play, playwright Sloane decides she’ll step into the lead (that Thanksgiving roll in the hay with Kevin did wonders for her confidence!) Present-day Kate discusses a potentially life-changing surgery with her mom and doctor (how depressing does that sound?) before Toby shows up out of nowhere to rekindle the romance – merry Christmas Kate! Director Hunt shows great skill, weaving together the stories of Dr. K’s impending surgery with the harrowing revelation of another major character’s sudden medical issue at the end of the episode. Meanwhile, if you found it strange there wasn’t a gay character on the show yet, the wait is over! I guessed wrong as to which one would wind up being gay (or in this case, at least bi), but it was definitely a surprise.
The Right Thing to Do (January 10, 2017)
A month after we last saw our dysfunctional family unit(s), it’s revealed that Toby’s collapse was due to a heart attack, but he’s got some recovering to do, while Kate sees it as an opportunity to strengthen their bond. We learn a bit about Jack & Rebecca’s parents through some 1980-era flashbacks (his dad’s an asshole; her mom’s a b*tch). William’s rekindled relationship with former boyfriend Jesse interferes with Randall’s increasing attachment to his biological dad (“Am I a homophobe? Why do I have a problem with Jesse?”) And the episode’s namesake (“The Right Thing to Do”) revolves around Olivia’s return to New York & her desire to rekindle her romance with Kevin & take back the lead role in Sloane’s play. He chooses Sloane in the end, but sometimes “The Right Thing to Do” sucks when you go about it doing it the wrong way, & Sloane may just let him have Olivia. (Damn, Kevin, so many difficult choices, what with all these beautiful, neurotic woman all over your azz.) But Kevin’s at his best when he’s being an as; it’s a nice break from all that damn earnestness of the other characters.
The Big Day (January 17, 2017)
So a woman is about to give birth to triplets, but her doctor has to have emergency surgery on the same day, so a should-be-retired doc takes his place. Only 2 of the babies survive the pregnancy, but a chance meeting in the newborn ward results in the new parents adopting a third child at the hospital. It was a great beginning story for This is Us. But how the hell did all of this happen? Did they plan this all out? Are the writers just making it up as they go? Well, this episode answers all those questions by going back to 1980 & leading up to “The Big Day,” when Jack & Rebecca Pearson met their children for the first time. We get to see Rebecca do the I’m-pregnant-so-I’m-mean-and-crazy routine leading up to Jack’s birthday & the “sexy dance” she did for him depicted in the very first scene of the series. We see what led Dr. K to be there in the clutch, delivering the Person’s babies when their regular doc pulled up lame. And most intriguing is fireman Joe’s story — the man who found baby (not-yet-named) Randall abandoned at the doorstep of the fire station and the emotional path he took to eventually drop off the baby at the hospital where the Pearsons later adopted him. One can only wonder if this was all mapped out in advance or made up on the fly (a la season 3 of Lost). But it’s an overall skillful run at going back to the first episode and answering many of that day’s lingering questions.
Three Sentences (January 24, 2017)
The triplet’s 10th birthday hits in 1989, where we get references to Princess Bride (Kevin is suddenly a fan because he likes Kate’s best friend, Sophie, who likes the movie) & Madonna (Kate’s fave. “Let’s vogue!”) Meanwhile, Randall has only a few friends show up to his portion of the party, but he’s cool with it. Newly energized In the present day (i.e. 2017), William suddenly wants Randall’s time & attention…on a day that Randall needs to concentrate on landing a big account at work (landing account vs. time with William: do you really need to be told what overly earnest good-guy Randall decides to do?) And William gets to drive a car for the first time in his life — the scariest drive since Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman! The best part of the episode is now-engaged Kate’s visit to the “fat camp,” where she runs into a cast of bizarre characters doing bizarre things, including a mysterious man (“I’m wasn’t being a dick; I am a dick…”) who tries to seduce her. And her newly-engaged fiance Toby (self proclaimed king of grand gestures) helps Kevin choose which girl to try to get back after he screwed the pooch with Sloane & Olivia. Who does he ultimately choose? You’ll be surprised.
I Call Marriage (February 7, 2017)
An episode steeped in the past, we learn a bit more about events that led to Rebecca winding up married to Miguel in the present (this one being Miguel’s divorce to Shelly). This brings Jack (isn’t he just perrrfect, ladies?) to plan a romantic getaway with Rebecca (“We’re not Miguel & Shelly.”). So ladies, didn’t you want to slap Rebecca at the end of the episode? Speaking of past relationships, Kevin continues trying to get back into ex-wife Sophie’s good graces. (If anyone can get a girl back, it’s The Manny, right?) Randall’s hang-up, according to wife Beth, is that he strives for perfection. But doesn’t it seem like Beth is the only perfect one in this show? (The writers obviously haven’t gotten around to her yet!) Nothing is going right for Randall, with this or that pulling him in opposite directions (should he spend more time with William? Or on that big account at work? Or at his kid’s chess tournament?…at least she won). Meanwhile, what the hell does Toby see in Kate? Her glowing personality? The “King of Grand Gestures” does it again, this time visiting Kate at her fat camp, only to be rebuffed once again. (Dude’s never gonna learn I guess…)
Jack Pearson’s Son (February 14, 2017)
More depth is provided on Rebecca & Jack’s marriage circa mid-90s as teenagers Kevin (having sex, Randall (having a nervous breakdown), & Kate (uhh, wearing eyeliner) test Rebecca’s desire to go out on the road singing with her band. A fight about Rebecca’s past with her band member drives Jack to drink. Kate’s booted out of fat camp & tries to go deep with Toby (maybe they’ll make it after all? Pffft, riiiight). Randall continues his spiral out of control, trying to be too many things to too many people, just as nervous-as-hell Kevin is about to open Sloane’s play in front of a packed house & New York Times critics. But opening night doesn’t go as planned. Good performances all around in this episode… You know what Kevin’s going to do, and it tears you apart anyway.
Memphis (February 21, 2017)
It’s all-Randall episode, with he and his dad, William, planning and taking a road trip back home to William’s old hometown of Memphis. We learn about William’s past — his father’s death (he was a military man), his history growing up with his mother, his mother’s death, & the circumstances that led to Randall’s birth. Randall’s adoptive father, Jack, is woven into the tale as Randall uses techniques taught to him by Jack to help ease William’s anxiety on his deathbed. With excellent performances by Sterling K. Brown & Ron Cephas Jones, this episode helped Brown to the drama’s only win at that year’s Emmys. The show went on a 2-week hiatus following this episode (penned by series creator Dan Fogelman), likely to allow This Is Us fans time to dry their eyes, restock the Kleenex, & roll out of their fetal positions.
What Now? (March 7, 2017)
The family comes together to honor William with a “fun“eral, & William’s final wish puts Randall’s two young daughters, Tess & Annie, in charge of the operation (fun guy he is, even in death). Rebecca finally gets the chance to apologize to Randall for keeping William a secret his entire life (is Mandy Moore the best actress or what?). Kate alludes to Jack’s death as she attempts to spill all to Toby in the wake of William’s death. Kevin’s play finally opens…it goes well AND he gets the girl — in this case, ex-wife Sophie, who seems to have too easily fallen back into his arms (but then again, he is “The Manny”). And who needs a Times critic to publicize the play when none other than Ron Howard sees it & wants to cast you in his next film in LA? (Ohhh, Sophie’s not gonna like this…)
Moonshadow (March 14, 2017)
Here it is, the big shebang! The grand finale! The final episode of season 1! And it’s all about do-overs, re-starts and new beginnings as we’re treated to how Jack & Rebeca met in 1972(it was at a bar, of course, where all good relationships start). Jack goes from jealous, raging drunk to “Super Jack: Romance King” all in 43 minutes. Elsewhere, Jack is trying his darnedest to get out from under his parents’ (& alcoholic father’s) roof, but he takes a dangerous path to get there when he attempts to gamble his way into money in a not-so-friendly game of cards. A spectacular buildup leads to a spectacular fight between Jack & Rebecca that winds down the episode & the season. Surprisingly, the Pearson children are nowhere to be seen, with the focus squarely on the Pearson parents. At the end of the episode, we’re rewarded with glimpses of Kate, Kevin & Randall, & what they intend to do as their lives take complete 180s. The final two episodes of the season built upon solid word-of-mouth & This Is Us‘s status as the new hit on broadcast TV as they ended up the most-watched of the year for the series. The finale would cashed in 12.84 million viewers as This Is Us finished 6th in Nielsens for 2016-2017.