Wednesday, February 2, 2022

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 6, Episode 4 “Don't Let Me Keep You” (B+)

It always catches me by surprise when this show devotes an entire episode to just one character and one point in time, even if we did get a few flashbacks to when Marilyn was alive. After an episode that dealt with how our four men are as fathers, it was appropriate to spend time thinking about Jack’s mother and the complicated relationship they had as a result of the shadow of his father. When Marilyn called and Jack couldn’t take the phone because he had to deal with one of the babies, I kept thinking how lucky we are to have FaceTime in this modern era, where such moments still feel impossibly distant but can be witnessed from afar. It’s also possible to get to know people without meeting them in person, though there still remains something poignant about a real-life, face-to-face rendezvous, something I’ve experienced myself on a few occasions since the start of the pandemic. It was hard to watch Marilyn come visit and still be so paralyzed by worry that Stanley would know she was there. It was much more affirming to see how sweet Mike was and how warmly he played with her grandchildren when Rebecca brought them in for the funeral. Casting Camryn Manheim as her cousin – not his, according to her – Debbie was effective, and she brings a certain gravitas to any role she takes. This show really does succeed when a character whose dead we’ve known is coming for the entire series can be the anchor for his own struggle with loss. I’ll tell you what doesn’t appeal to me even if it’s apparently delicious: hot dogs and tomato soup.

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