Thursday, October 29, 2020

What I’m Watching: This Is Us (Season Premiere)

This Is Us: Season 5, Episode 1 “Forty: Part One” (B+)

This feels like the right show to be returning first out of all the shows that I watch, acknowledging the existence of a pandemic in a way that doesn’t feel more present than it does in our everyday lives. Characters wear masks and don’t go anywhere, but in this case, that means quarantining together at the family cabin and getting tested before they see anyone so that they can make sure it’s as safe as possible. It’s still jarring to see actors wearing masks playing the characters we’ve known before, and this show deserves special credit since it previewed much of what we’re seeing now before coronavirus was a well-known thing and managed to incorporate that new element into the existing plotlines relatively well. It’s not clear exactly where Rebecca went to eat indoors with no one wearing masks while Kevin and Madison were masked up in the doctor’s office, but I’ll forgive that one since that’s a crucial part of the struggle that the Big Three are going to have to deal with, which is Rebecca wanting to be independent while needing more care given her deteriorating memory. Randall’s storyline is extraordinarily interesting, watching him struggle with the murder of George Floyd and open up to Malik of all people about how it felt to grow up Black in a white family. It’s good that he continues to see his therapist, but all the women in his life are noticing that he’s not acting normal, which is of course logical given his preexisting anxiety and the many ways in which that’s only increasing now. Heading to the cabin seems like a recipe for disaster, but hopefully it will end up being a positive reunion.

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