In recent weeks, it has been nearly impossible to not come across an article or people at the office, at the store, or at your local church discussing perhaps what may go down as one of the most iconic television dramas of the decade, if not multiple decades. That program I am referring to is NBC”s “This Is Us.” When a program like this becomes so popular it is often it seems due to controversial and radical content that pushes boundaries. It also is generally on HBO or Showtime. The old adage of sex sells is often a large part of a program’s success nowadays, as well as a large amount of violence and foul language.
That is why the success of “This Is Us” initially seems so surprising. Here is a program that while, yes, does have some sexual references and mildly suggestive scenes, though often in the context of marriage, doesn’t use excessive amounts of it to draw viewers in. No, this show uses a forgotten art at times nowadays, good old fashioned tight script writing. It also has developed some of the finest characters I have ever seen in a television series. Each character experiences growth and arcs nearly each episode.
However, I dare to say, I think perhaps the biggest reason this show is so successful and so popular especially among those in my age group (18-40) is because it has given us something few other programs do nowadays, it gives us positive father role models. My generation has been said by many psychologists to be the least fathered generation in American history. Well known Christian author and speaker Donald Miller was even asked by former President Barack Obama to partner with a government funded non profit organization known as the Fatherhood Initiative, which works to find mentors for young men who don’t have a father in their life. Miller was deeply honored to do this, due to his lack of a father in his own life growing up.
In “This Is Us” Jack Pearson, the patriarch of the Pearson family, is an incredibly committed family man who has raised three children, two of whom were his own biological children, and one adopted son, all born on the same day. Jack is an incredibly loving and protective man, but also a man who battles alcoholism throughout his life. He handles this struggle with humility and grace, but the writers don’t shy away from the constant struggle he has. However, we see in that struggle that small victories can happen each day, and that Jack is a still a fine, loving man, who as we have recently learned (SPOILER ALERT) ultimately died from complications while helping to save his family from a house fire back in 1998 as we see in the flashback sections of the series. He even went back into the inferno to save the family dog and some of their ‘important stuff’ like photo albums and home video tapes. Jack is self sacrificing and flat out selfless in how he loves and leads his family.
His adopted son Randall, in the current timeline of the series, is also an incredibly committed family man, no doubt influenced strongly by his father. Randall loves his wife and two young daughters sacrificially and deeply, and also has stepped out this season to function as a foster father along with his wife Beth, to teenage children in need. It isn’t hard to see how much of an impact Jack’s strong family leadership had on young Randall growing up, and how he has taken the cue from his adopted father’s example and done his legacy proud.
It is my firm belief that our culture right now needs a fresh infusion of strong husbands and fathers. It is my prayer that my fellow millennials and I will be able to stop the trend of divorce and irresponsibility that is currently plaguing our culture, and be those strong husbands and fathers. We can learn while watching “This Is Us” what that tangibly looks like, especially those who unlike me, didn’t have a strong paternal presence in their lives growing up. I was blessed to see this played out often growing up with my own father, and learned a lot from those times of observation and interaction.
If you haven’t watched this show yet, I highly recommend you hop on Hulu and start streaming it from the first episode. You will be glad you did. Season two just wrapped a couple of weeks ago. Both seasons are on Hulu in their entirety. I recommend a summer binge watching spree!