‘This Is Us’ returns, the surprising success of a rarity on television today | TV


In times of platforms, suspense novels dense, tormented characters and dark comedies, the success of We are, an emotional and luminous family drama with extra doses of syrup and tears, is one of the last great rarities on American television. After its premiere in 2016, it became a phenomenon that is reflected in figures. In its third season it reached an average of 13.8 million viewers. The episode that NBC aired after the 2018 Super Bowl reached 27 million viewers, a number that had not seen a network drama in almost 15 years. The public was more than willing to get carried away by a story that knew how to twist the clichés of the genre in an intelligent way and play with the narrative, with script twists that trapped the current viewer.

We are It surprised from its initial chapter, which showed the story of a family in two different but intertwined timelines, something that was only discovered at the end of the episode. The formula worked and it not only seduced the public, but also the critics and the voters in the awards: it was the last series of an American open network to compete for the Emmy for best drama. Now, while the United States is preparing to say goodbye definitively to the Pearsons with the broadcast of the sixth and final season, its fifth installment has arrived in Spain, with a delay of more than a year.

The wait, unusual at a time when the broadcast of series simultaneously around the world is practically the norm, has put the patience of Spanish viewers to the test. While in the first four seasons the series arrived on Fox Life a few days or weeks apart from the broadcast in its country of origin, the fifth was so delayed that it was never seen on the pay channel. The delay ended this Thursday with its addition to the Prime Video catalog.

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Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz, with masks in the fifth season of 'This Is Us'.
Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz, with masks in the fifth season of ‘This Is Us’.NBC (NBC)

Along the lines of family dramas with a soap opera touch like Paternity Y Five brothersWe are shows that old formulas can still work on television today. The recipe may seem simple, but it requires the combination of several ingredients that do not always find their place and their right time. On the one hand, and how the good doctor and still manages with proven effectiveness Grey’s Anatomy, there is the emotional factor, with plots that give space to feelings and manage to connect with the viewer, who finds in them an oasis in the form of a refuge for emotional catharsis. The narrative structure of the series, with its different time frames and games of mirrors between them, allows to create a certain mystery and sow clues about the future of the characters, composing a kind of puzzle that the viewer tries to reconstruct before the plot explains it. . In addition, the diversity in the characters and the topics covered, from racial and identity issues to addictions or obesity, makes it easy for the viewer to identify.

Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson.
Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson.

This fifth installment takes up the story of the Pearsons and their well-known narration with time jumps that shows the past, present and even future of the three main brothers and their family environment. Designed and recorded in the first months of the pandemic, the fiction commanded by Dan Fogelman chose to incorporate the consequences of the new reality into its plots, with its uncertainty, its masks, confinements and economic crisis. However, in the sixth season, which has been broadcast in the United States since the beginning of January, the pandemic is already history and the characters refer to it as something from the past, so that the will to represent a world in which the viewer could be recognized has been broken, since the broadcast of these chapters has coincided with the explosion of the omicron variant.

Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Moore and Sterling K. Brown, in 'This Is Us'.
Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Moore and Sterling K. Brown, in ‘This Is Us’.

Although last season suffered a decrease in its following compared to the excellent data of previous seasons, the series remained in the list of the 10 most watched in the 2020-2021 academic year, forming part of that small resistance of television fictions that remain strong on free-to-air television despite the strength of the platforms. That strength led the cast to ask for financial compensation. Although each actor was hired for a different salary at the beginning of the series, they took advantage of his success to renegotiate his conditions after the second season. Thus, they came to charge $250,000 per episode, all equally, but far from the $540,000 that Mariska Hargitay earns for each episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit or the 20 million a year for Ellen Pompeo for Grey’s Anatomy.

Even so, Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Sterling K. Brown, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Sullivan and Jon Huertas form the most economically valued cast on free television. For the final 18 episodes, they negotiated en bloc, backed by creator Dan Fogelman. Finally, 20th Television and NBC agreed to pay them an additional check for the entire season of two million dollars each, except for Jon Huertas, who received a million because he was not originally part of the fixed cast.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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