(Image via WSJ.com)
Anyone that has known or met me before knows that I am absolutely in love with NBC’s “This Is Us”. You can find me bawling my eyes out in almost every episode, so much that the next day at work you’ll find my colleagues asking me “are you okay?” (citing my insanely puffy eyes).
If you haven’t watched This Is Us before, then it’s definitely worth starting and joining this ship!
Quick intro: This Is Us (created by Dan Fogelman) centres around the lives of two parents (Jack Pearson – played by Milo Ventimiglia and Rebecca Pearson – played by Mandy Moore) and their 3 triplets (Randall Pearson – played by Sterling K. Brown, Kate – played by Chrissy Metz, and Kevin Pearson – played by Justin Hartley). What’s different about this show to many other family/comedy dramas is that asides from the fact that the cast has such amazing chemistry between them, the show is just so insanely beautifully written & edited… while the flow & timeline of the show is so seamless that you’re never really left puzzled about what happened when, but really left hanging wanting more and to JOIN THEIR FAMILY and be a part of their awesome heartwarming world!
Admittedly I’ve never written a review on shows before, but this piece isn’t so much about about the episode itself, but rather I wanted to reference the themes & ideas explored in the recent This Is Us episode “Sometimes” (Season 3, Episode 7).
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
The folks at NBC promised us that we’d be exploring a lot of Jack’s time in Vietnam (during the war) and this week’s episode “Sometimes” begins to (because we’re still left hanging sadly) really dig deeper into Jack’s past 28 years before he met Rebecca.
At the same time we also see more of Zoe’s (played by Melanie Liburd – is it just me or does she insanely also remind you of Bonnie from Vampire Diaries – played by Kat Graham) past come to light too.
Past: Jack & Rebecca
The episode jumps between the past & present with Jack & Rebecca making a roadtrip from Pittsburgh out to Los Angeles in hopes of Rebecca gaining foot on her dreams of pursuing a musical career, while in present day we see Kevin & Zoe off to Vietnam in hopes of finding out more about his father’s Vietnam past.
While Rebecca is filled with immense excitement at the possibility of kicking off her musical career, by the end of the episode she’s left a bit broken with the reality that though these record execs were interested in her music, they ultimately decided she wouldn’t be the kind of material to “make it big”.
Present: Kevin & Zoe
Fresh off the plane in Vietnam, we find Kevin keen on cementing his and Zoe’s couple status by posting a picture of themselves on social media. Zoe’s quick to ask Kevin not to tag her, stating that she doesn’t want her father knowing about her whereabouts and keeps it just at that, nothing further explained.
Kevin, now realising that he doesn’t know much about Zoe’s past, except for that she moved in with Beth (Randall’s wife & Zoe’s cousin – played by Susan Kelechi Watson) at the age of 8.
Kevin is obviously upset and recognises that he doesn’t know much about her childhood, and wants to learn everything about her. While the notion is sweet, Zoe evidently is reluctant to share this part of her life and is adamant in protecting herself & this secret.
By the end of the episode, we find Zoe sitting in a bathtub unwell, while Kevin comes to comfort her and tell her he’ll ultimately respect her wishes because he may be falling in love with her.
Zoe pauses for a long while and finally reveals the truth about her childhood, and we learn that the reason why she doesn’t want her father knowing about her whereabouts is because he sexually abused her as a child. WHAT?!?!??!! (And that he’s always been finding ways since to make amends – which she wants nothing of).
However she tells Kevin her reason for eventually opening up to him is not because he kept bugging her about it, or that he just told her that he might be falling in love with her (and likewise the fact that she might be too), but she states that her reason for sharing this truth is because her father has already ruined this much for her (up until now), and she’s not going to let him ruin this (the relationship between her and Kev) too.
WOW. (mic drop)
Wow. This episode, just wow. Yes I was bawling my eyes out by the end of this episode too but wow. I can’t begin to even properly express how amazing this episode was, and how torn, sad, conflicted yet empowered I feel.
These two stories, entwined, but then also relatively independent stories just delivered one key takeaway message in two ultimately different ways.
“Don’t ever let anyone determine your fate”
Though Rebecca seems a bit defeated and looks likes she’s retreated on her musical journey, (for now?!), I want to say that this is just the opinion of one record label exec (since the other guy didn’t have much input), and to be honest if he’s never been to Pittsburgh, what simply does he know!
I love, love, love, loveeeeeee how empowering Zoe is, and how she chooses to not let the past shape her realities (and future). Even today, you or me – we’re all constantly suffering from the opinions of others who we relentlessly seek approval and affirmation of. Sometimes, when they’re not even warranted for!
Though the pausing on Rebecca’s career ultimately leads her to head back to the “rainy goodness” of Pittsburgh (which isn’t a bad thing for us because that’s how we get the big-three!), it’s a bit disheartening to see that it only took one guy (the record label exec) to wash away any hopes and excitement she had for pursuing her dreams.
While I acknowledge it is important that have a degree of self-awareness (understanding of public perception) and to a certain degree, where volume/numbers speaks they MIGHT be saying something valid, it sometimes is incredibly important to fight for what you want. (Especially if you truly believe in yourself and as long as it’s not at the expense of others).
Just because one person says no, does not mean it’s the end.
Just because it doesn’t happen now, doesn’t mean this is the end.
The universe has a beautiful way of making things happen, and sometimes I do believe that when something you want doesn’t happen, it might not be because you were undeserving of it. It might simply be that it wasn’t right for you at the time, or that you actually had (the support/or resources of) something better going on for you instead.
On the other hand, Zoe is so incredibly strong and responsible for herself that she doesn’t let her experiences/suffering shape her. She doesn’t let this define her or victimize herself. She owns her life and she’s not about to let ANYONE ruin anything for her.
Owning Your Life
Channelling along the same thoughts, Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” also talks about the two ways that people often victimize themselves via self-entitlement.
Page 55 of Mark Manson’s book:
- “I’m awesome and the rest of you all suck, therefore I deserve special treatment”
- “I suck and the rest of you are all awesome, so I deserve special treatment”
I probably see a lot more people succumbing to the 2nd one rather than the 1st, where people often don’t take responsibility or ownership of things that happen in their life. While there are some things out of our control, I do believe a lot comes down to how we process/react/take on that experience. Some people use different challenges/difficulties to make them stronger, and take it as a lesson/learning experience, while some use it as an excuse to victimize themselves and blame society/external factors for their inability to BE and achieve.
Everyone has their own problems & demons to deal with, but like Mark Manson says in his book, many victimize themselves because it makes THEM and their circumstance special. It allows them to have someone to blame, and not be at fault for their own shortcomings.
Mark Manson never fails to give it to us in direct, upfront and in a REAL manner. I love reading his articles but this book also rounded things up on why we simply need to care less about what others think.
Just as this episode “Sometimes” has taught us, “don’t ever let anyone determine your fate”. You know yourself best, and what you can achieve. Sure a bit of feedback might help a bit here and there but it’s important you trust yourself and the decisions/life you believe you are capable of.
I know this post has been a bit long so thank you for bearing with me, I really loved the values that this episode of “This Is Us” taught us, so hope you do continue (or start) watching it and definitely check out Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck“.
I’m also super excited to start reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” as she explores her own identity via public perception.
Which episode has been your favourite “This Is Us” one so far?