We’re all a little bit obsessed with things we can relate to, whether it’s a painfully true meme about college students or a t-shirt we just have to buy because the words on it seem to come straight from our soul. One of the latest displays of this enthusiasm has shown up with the highly successful NBC show, “This Is Us.” With over 11 million viewers in its 2017/2018 season[1], this beautiful television series enthralled us all with its presentation of relevant issues, joys and pains of the human experience, and characters that quickly become our “friends.”

With a title that implies a certain level of candor about the character’s lives, it almost feels like we’re watching an adaptation of our own. The Pearson triplets say to the viewers, “This is who we are and we’re doing the best we can,” and their audience responds with a resounding “SAME.” How does this show accomplish such a feat? How is it so applicable to so many unique lives? The plot line contains numerous trials and misfortunes: death, miscarriage, loss of property, racism, mental illness, eating disorders, and general stress and anxiety. Aside from these trials, the plot also introduces many triumphs for the triplets, including celebration over happy relationships, success in careers, growing of families, and everyday moments of love and gratitude. These are not necessarily things we have all been through, but the emotions are all the same. Which one of us at one point has not felt grief, pain, joy, love, loss, disappointment, or pride?

What does it mean for us that this show is so #relatable? Maybe it means “This Is Us” will be your new favorite show and that you will obsessively clear your Tuesday nights of any other commitments so you can watch it live. It might mean that you will feel like you are friends with these made up people and you would do anything for them. There is, however, an arguably more important take away. Do you commonly cry and laugh with the people around you like you do with these characters? If the answer is yes, YOU ROCK! But maybe you’re like me and you would defend Kevin more readily than your best friend, because you know his story and you feel his pain. Well, we all have stories and we all have pain. You will not go through everything that your best friend has gone through but you didn’t experience Kevin’s life either. Love each other! Assume the best, excuse the misunderstandings, offer support through pain and celebrate together through joys! As different as we each are, our human experiences are not as isolated and individualized as we sometimes think. Try to understand the people around you a little better.

This is us. We cry, we struggle, we smile, and we laugh and we are human. In the words of our dear friend Kevin Pearson, “There’s no ‘You’ or ‘Me’ or ‘Them.’ It’s just ‘Us.’ And this sloppy, wild, colorful, magical thing that has no beginning, has no end, it’s right here. I think it’s us.”[2]

[1] TV Series Finale. (n.d.). Number of viewers of selected NBC scripted shows in the United States in the 2017/2018 season (in millions). In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 23, 2018, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/882556/nbc-scripted-shows-viewers/.

[2] Lawson, J. (Writer), & Tillman, G. (Director). (2016, October 25). The game plan. [Television series episode], This Is Us. NBC.