‘This Is Us’ To That Was Us

I remember watching the pilot for This Is Us. I thought it was fantastic. Six years later, I still think the show is fantastic. It’s ending next week on the 24th, and I just wanted to write about how great this show was. I do believe it will go down in history in many ways. I wrote about it years ago after three episodes were out, and here we are now, days away from it being over.

This Is Us Sad Randall gif.
Me thinking about this show ending

On top of being a quality show (more on that in a second), it had the unique ability to tell an intergenerational story. Episodes constantly were jumping around timelines showing parallels between family members and how life changes over time. It was so cool. It was so well done. Usually when shows try to do flashbacks or something, the result is crappy wigs and plot holes. But not This Is Us. They managed to flawlessly show characters from babies to old age. The casting was phenomenal (like, freaky good) and it made the jumps in time so smooth so you stayed invested in the story.

And the story, by the way, was great. The creator had said years ago that he had a six season plan, and that’s what we got. No forcing storylines out past its prime, no cast members leaving because they got sick of it, no dips in quality. I have to respect NBC and the showrunners for delivering the show this way even through popularity. It would have been so easy for the show to lean into more drama and make it cheesier, but they didn’t. They kept it honest and real and emotional all the way through. I can’t think of a single plotline that got forgotten or story that didn’t pay off. Even when they touched on more sensitive or timely topics, they did it in a way that didn’t feel forced or fake. It all worked organically. I’ll admit, in the later seasons, I wasn’t tearing up every episode the way I was in S2 or S3, but I still thought the episodes were solid.

This Is Us Happy gif.

I’ll miss this show. I’ll miss watching it with my old roommate. I miss seeing the characters grow. Since This Is Us began, there’s been a handful of shows that try to mimic the story and serve us something emotional each week. I watch a lot of them, and while they’re somewhat entertaining and provide quality time for me to spend with my mother, they’re not even close to being as special as This Is Us. Shows and networks can continue to try and even attempt the stellar time jumps, but it’ll never compare.

If you’ve never given This Is Us a try, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s sappy and there are a lot of big emotional speeches (and they know it), but it is genuinely a good show. Good writing, great storytelling, award-winning acting, amazing characters, and top-notch entertainment that spans comedy and drama perfectly. It’s one of my favourite shows and I’m glad I got to watch it every week (truly, it’s a show best not binged).

Jack Pearson gif.
Me after watching the series finale.

P.S. Hey, and speaking of TV, to the handful of people who participated in my 2021 TV guessing game, thank you, and here are the results (scores at the bottom)!

 

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Let’s Talk About The Disney+ Marvel Shows Now That We’ve Seen Five

With Moon Knight recently wrapping up, we’ve now officially got five live action Marvel Disney+ shows in the books. So let’s talk about them. Marvel has itself in an interesting position where its TV shows aren’t just singular shows, but part of a larger universe. However, that has its drawbacks too.

Of the five so far (WandaVision, Falcon And The Winter Soldier, Loki, Hawkeye, and Moon Knight) my favourite was WandaVision. The episodes were shorter, but there were more of them, and in my opinion, this show had the best story arc. It had a beginning, middle, and end. The main issue was resolved enough and it even set itself up for more. I can’t say the same for the other shows. I found Loki in particular to be pretty bland. While it set up for something seemingly cool, the point of the shows shouldn’t be set ups. They themselves should tell the stories, but I found that Loki didn’t really do that. Not to mention that it’ll be a while until the payoff even comes into fruition. I’m glad there are so many shows, but even waiting five months over the summer for network shows is hard enough, and here were are, waiting two years for more on D+.

Time moves differently at the TVA. gif.
Marvel to us when we ask for S2 of Loki.

I really like that we got to see more of Wanda’s story in Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness as a follow up to WandaVision, not as a part of an unfinished story.

What do we think of the episode counts? They range from 6-8, clocking in at around 30-45 mins. This is down from the 13 episodes that Netflix used to give us, and just a fraction of the 15-22 episodes that network TV shows offer every season. It seems weird to complain about several hours of well-made TV, but honestly, I think all the Marvel Disney+ shows would have benefit from more episodes. I want more, and not in a blind fan way. I want more because I really think the stories were rushed and not properly developed. For almost every one of these shows, right before the final episode my friends and I would say “wow, I wonder how they’re gonna wrap it all up in one more episode!” because there always seemed like there was so much going on that we needed more time with.

Moon Knight was the first show so far where there was no prior knowledge to be had of the man or the situation. All the other main characters were ones we knew from the MCU movies. So while we perhaps were able to forgo a bit of the setup and introduction on the other shows, we needed it for Moon Knight, and I don’t think we got it. It wasn’t until episode 5 (of 6) that we finally understood how Marc and Steven came to be, which is far too late in the game. I have to wonder if a Moon Knight movie would’ve let it drag on that long.

Marc Spector Steven Grant GIF - Marc Spector Steven Grant Oscar Isaac -  Discover & Share GIFs

My ranking of the shows so far are as follows:

  1. WandaVision
  2. Falcon And The Winter Soldier
  3. Hawkeye
  4. Moon Knight
  5. Loki

What’s your ranking? What are your thoughts on the shows and how they exist within the machine that is Marvel?

Kate and Clint gif.

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Stop Making Mediocre, Familiar Live Musicals On TV

Last week, NBC aired their yearly live musical: Annie. I watched it. It wasn’t awful (though Harry Connick Jr’s bald cap was). However, it did not need to be made. It’s not like no one knows the story of Annie. It’s not like there wasn’t a recent and decent movie remake of it in 2014. It’s not like these live musicals are spectacular productions that become instant classics in pop culture.

That felt unnecessary.

And this is essentially the same gripes I have with almost every live musical that has come out in the last decade on all the networks. Specifically point number two. I get so annoyed that instead of giving us something fresh and fun, we get a worse version of a musical that already has high-quality or very familiar movie in existence. Hairspray, Rent, Rocky Horror, and Grease are examples of this. While none of these live versions were complete trash, they all underwhelmed and really didn’t compare with their filmed counterparts.

It’s nice that these networks want to put on live musicals and want to bring some theater to the masses given that the medium is notoriously inaccessible, but I think they’re squandering their opportunity to really leave a mark and have a production that we want to watch again and again. Tell a new story or revive a musical that we don’t all essentially know by heart already.

Tell Me Something I Don't know gif.

I know I like musicals probably more than the next person, but The Wiz in 2015 and Jesus Christ Superstar in 2018 were the only ones that I personally hadn’t seen beforehand, but I did know the stories. There was supposed to be a live Bye Bye Birdie a few years ago starring/produced by Jennifer Lopez, and that’s a show I know nothing about nor has there been a recent movie of it, so it seemed like a great, fresh idea, yet it’s gotten pushed back and honestly is probably never going to happen at this point.

I guess it has to do with licensing or something at the end of the day, which is why a lot of these shows done live on TV are ones that we’ve also seen time and time again at local high schools or small community theaters. You’d think that NBC would have a bigger arsenal of money and lawyers to get the rights to shows that my boring high school could only dream of getting, but I guess not.

Shady I guess not GIF.

Obviously, I’ll continue to watch these live musicals, but I won’t be happy about it. As much as I respect how hard it must be to perform a musical live in a short amount of time, I can’t help but feel disappointed year after year at how mediocre and forgettable these productions are.

Do you watch the live musicals every year? Is there one that you particularly liked or disliked? Do you wish there were newer or less familiar shows being done?

 

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Just Talking About TV Shows I’m Watching

I’ve written about specific TV shows before, dedicating whole posts to spreading the good word, and in my Monthly Look Aheads, I’ll often namedrop a few shows I’m looking forward to, but I realized I don’t often elaborate on some of the middle-of-the-road or older shows I’m watching. And since I don’t watch shows live too much these days, I’m not often tweeting my thoughts the way I used to either. So here’s this. Just me talking about the TV shows I’m choosing to consume for better or for worse.

Watching TV gif.

Legends Of Tomorrow – currently in S7, this show is, without a doubt, the best and perhaps only decent thing in the Arrowverse still. I think its best seasons have come and gone, but I still really enjoy the rag-tag team of misfits and their shenanigans, even after so many years.

Batwoman – currently in S3, this show isn’t the worst. I think Javicia Leslie did great taking over the role of Batwoman, and I like the dynamics of the team. Sometimes the drama is a little too corny, and I’m worried that having Luke become a hero is step one in the common Arrowverse pattern of everyone eventually being a hero, but so far, I don’t hate watching this!

A Million Little Things – currently in S4, this show is very dumb but my mother and I watch it just for jokes. It started out heartfelt and has its moments even now, but it’s gotten off the rails. Now it’s just funny to see the characters collectively take on every hardship imaginable in the most dramatized way. Cancer? Mental health crisis? Late in life sexuality changes? Injury? Failed adoption? Affairs? This show has it all and more.

The Big Leap – currently in S1, this show is really just worming its way deep into my heart. It’s new, obviously, but even from the first episode I knew it was going to be something I adore. If you like dancing and a healthy mix of comedy and cheesy drama, I really recommend it. I hope it gets renewed for a second season.

The Big Leap cast.

The Morning Show – currently in S2, this AppleTV show is fine. Great cast, sure, but S1 really had a story and I feel like the second season is just struggling in the aftermath to be as relevant or exciting. It’s still an interesting watch, and I watch this one with my mother too, so that makes it better.

Doom Patrol – currently in S3, this show is wild. It’s like Legends Of Tomorrow but way goofier and unpredictable. Honestly, most of the time I have no idea what’s going on in the season in terms of an overall story because whatever there is is always so complicated and random, but the characters are so fun together that I don’t mind. This show is not for everyone but if you like DC comics and want a superhero show that’s unlike any other, this is it.

Stargirl – currently in S2, this show is alright. It’s nothing special in terms of the genre, but it’s fine. I enjoy it enough to keep watching, but I certainly don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. And when I do think about it, it’s just me thinking about how Pat is the best character, hands down.

Succession – currently in S3, this show continues to deliver quality drama from an array of funny but awful people. It’s wildly fascinating to watch, and this third season, though only a few episodes in, is shaping up to be as exciting and dramatic as ever.

Kendall and Greg on Succession gif.

Upcoming in the next month

Dickinson – its third and final season begins in November, and I hope it ends well with Emily getting the peace she’s seeking. This show is incredibly underrated, but it hasn’t overstayed its welcome, which is good.

The Flash – going into its 8th season, this show needs to end. Like, yesterday. I like most of the characters enough, but the plots are just silly at this point. It’s all just villains that don’t feel threatening, drama that doesn’t matter, and arcs I just don’t care to see. But I keep watching. For some reason.

The Flash Eye Roll Gif.
Me watching The Flash every week, being disappointed.

Do you watch any of these shows? Discuss with me in the comments! These are all week-to-week shows, and I like keeping up with them rather than binging them. Is there a show you think I’d enjoy? One TV show on my metaphorical list that I’ve been meaning to start is The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, so one day I’ll get around to that.

And that’s about it for me in terms of my TV watching. I know it seems like a lot but it’s actually down from what it has been in previous years, and I watch almost all of these at double speed, so keeping up isn’t too hard.

Maybe I’ll do a post like this again in the future when there are different shows on my roster.

 

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Soap Opera Actors: Why Are You The Way That You Are?

My mom watches Young And The Restless. I remember doing homework at the kitchen table and listening to Victor and Nikki break up for the 500th time or something like that. It’s wild that now, all these years later, I’ll go downstairs to get a snack during work and there’s Mom watching the show still. Victor and Nikki are on their 800th breakup now, I think.

Soap operas fascinate me. They’re on the air for decades, with new episodes almost every single day, and the stories are so ridiculous, but people love them. Quality drama shows get axed after a season or two on primetime TV, but some evil twin coming back to life to marry the stepbrother you found out you had two weeks ago does numbers on daytime. Insane.

It's Crazy GIF.

They’ve got a cult following of sorts, but it’s an age group that overall isn’t exactly young anymore, so I can’t imagine that in twenty years, there will be many soaps on the air still. Also, the majority of the main actors are on the older side too…

Which brings me to the point of this post. What kind of fascinates me the most about soaps is that there are actors who essentially spend their whole career on that one show, just filming decades of episodes. The grind seems constant, but they stay. It seems so different from other non-soap actors who are constantly joining new projects and telling new stories. I imagine that all actors get into the biz because they love storytelling and playing a variety of characters, but some of these soap actors just seem to, like, stop wanting more after that early role. It goes against everything we seem to know about actors.

I think about all the primetime TV shows that have lost a beloved character late in the show because the actor/actress decided they wanted to do something different and couldn’t wait for the show to end. I feel like a bad person for thinking about it, but if some of these soap actors can play a role for 25 straight years, surely this other actor can stick around for this last and final season, right?

Disappointed Gif 0144 - PNGDir | PNG Image Directory

On the other hand, maybe acting is just a job like any other, and as long as you like your coworkers and make enough money and have a work/life balance, you’ll stay forever, so maybe soaps are just specially designed to be such good environments that people are willing to dedicate their entire career to it. If they’re happy, then good for them, I guess. Plus, it’s not like they don’t do any other acting. All of the main Young And The Restless cast do have many other credits, but usually for only one episode or in a movie no one’s heard of. Again, if they’re satisfied, then go for it, I guess.

Good For You GIF.

In the grand scheme of things, the mindsets of soap actors mean very little to me, but I do spend a lot of time pondering this every time I see my mom watching good ol’ Y&R, so now hopefully you get to think about it a bit too.

That’s all for now!

 

 

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