Monday, September 26, 2016

So, This Is Us...

Have you watched this show on NBC? This Is Us? Warning: I'm about to PLOT SPOIL the hell out of the pilot, so you may not want to read further...

My friend Monica told me that it was really good, but that there was baby loss in the first episode, so I approached the show with caution. It's not that the story line scares me--at least, since I knew what was coming. But I was scared of how they would handle it. Would it be smoothed over? Would it be a story about silver linings? Would there be some saccharine moment that suggested "everything happened for a reason"? Alternatively, would the mother be portrayed as a grief monster? The oversimplification of any story line is pretty necessary for TV, so I just wondered how they would present this one.

Anyway, I'll tell you that I think they did it pretty well. I fast forwarded through a lot of hospital scenes, because the truth is that I don't like watching fake pregnant women have fake birth scenes in fake hospitals. It's just something I would prefer not to see.

The first time I watched it, I also fast forwarded through the scene where the doctor tells the dad that they lost a baby (I say "a baby" because you find out early on she's expecting triplets). But then Monica said that was the "best part" and after I got over my shock that she would describe the conversation that way, I realized that I was probably reading her tone wrong over text and she actually meant that the conversation was really important in terms of how the show was dealing with the issue of losing a baby during labor. So I went back and watched it.

Here's the clip:

(You can also watch the whole episode on

There are a lot of good things here. I love the doctor's compassion. The dad's bewilderment is heartbreaking.

Many of my baby-loss friends were like me in that their husbands were with them in the same room when they were told that their baby had died. I know a few people who found out at a routine appointment and had to call their husbands. But this scene makes me think of my friend Mark, and how he was the one who knew that his son Matthew had died before his wife (my friend Christine) woke from her emergency c-section.He, then, was the one who told her. (It probably goes without saying that I was bawling my eyes out while watching this, but I'm not calling it a grief-trigger because it didn't come out of no where. It's intended to be full of pathos, and I think it does what it sets out to do, which is not to dismiss the loss of a baby during pregnancy or labor.)

And, of course, I was especially appreciative that the doctor says that he thinks about his first child every single day (even though he's now an old man).

I will say that I'm not crazy about the lemonade analogy--it's tired and kind of trite, and I think they could have done better. But whatever. A lot of people say stuff like that, and at least he didn't act like things were "better" this way. And I can see how the analogy works, as most of us do go on to do the best we can to have lives that include plenty of sweet to accompany the bitter.

One of my friends mentioned that she thought it was all pretty well done, although the scene with the parents home from the hospital show them beaming with smiles over their living children instead of still wracked with sobs and crying their faces off. But it also shows the mom back to having a waist after presumably delivering triplets just a few days earlier, so true-to-life obviously isn't really happening here.

What does happen is a pretty good conversation about the way losing a baby changes your life, and about the way you try to make meaning out of that tragedy. My friend Caroline says that she thinks about how having her son Cale turned her life in a new direction and she has the family she has now because of him. I think that's true for many of us, and while that doesn't make their deaths any less devastating, it does speak to the impact of their brief lives and, hopefully, to the hugeness of that love.

Anyway, if you've seen the show, I'd love to know what you thought of it.  


  1. The waist three days post partum (post triplets!) is an excellent point. I'm STILL waiting for my waist to reappear.
    But yes, all in I thought it was nice. I actually like the lemonade analogy because I feel like it simplifies it for people who might other wise just assume you can turn lemons into skittles and dismiss the whole thing. it felt relatable. And the still thinking about his first baby all these years later, every single day? Yes. <3

  2. I watched "the scene" prior to watching the full episode. I was concerned that they would portray the grief realistically, and I'm still not sure if they will or not. I don't like the insinuation that the third triplet (frustrates me that he didn't get a name) has been replaced by Randall.

    I didn't get, until I read it in an article after I watched the episode, that Kate, Kevin and Randall ARE the triplets and that Kate and Jack are the parents. Perhaps I missed something (I kept having to pause the episode to reset Lucy for her nap), so I'm unsure if/how they are going to incorporate the parents in future episode.

    1. Yes, I know what you mean that this other baby feels kind of like a perfect "replacement" for the triplet. I am not holding my breath that the issue will be addressed in the future--I don't know if each episode will have flashbacks? Will be interesting to see what they do going forward, but I guess I'm trying to keep my expectations low.

  3. Overall I thought they did a good job. I wonder if adopting a third baby of a different ethnicity will allow them to continue acknowledging the baby they lost or whether they will brush over it.

    The best part was by far the "I think of him every single day." This is exactly what I want the world to know. Bear is not something sad that happened to me years ago, but rather he is my son who I miss every single day.

    I'll keep watching for now...

    1. Yes; I'm curious about that, too. And I completely agree about our losses not being a specific moment from which we move forward and recover. Every day of my life I have a daughter who died and even though I'm not feeling the fresh shock of that loss, there's no full recovery from it, either.

  4. I didn't get initially that Kate, Kevin, and Randall were the twins. I knew it was odd that things didn't seem to be happening in the same time period (smoking in the hospital, for instance) and when the fireman said he'd found the baby I was thinking, gee, this is too specific; how often does that happen. And then it clicked. Maybe it was the vodka, I don't know. I hated that the opening line references Wikipedia like it's a real news source. And I didn't like how Randall was just home with them instead of someone mentioning something like paperwork. I know that couldn't have been fully incorporated time-wise, but I didn't like the idea suggesting oh hey, someone left a baby, let's take that one (and magically fix our heartache).

    My friend mentioned that she thought the infants' shirts meant they were 3 months old so that could account for her weight loss. Maybe? Although I thought it was just a triplets pun.

    1. It IS troubling to think of the implication that picking up this extra baby and bringing him home will "fix" the heartache. That's what makes me wonder if the death of one triplet will ever be referenced again--and I guess I'm assuming it probably won't be.

      I'm with you on thinking it was a triplet pun--and that's also a little complicated. Like "Here's our perfect replacement! Our family is complete after all!"

      It was kind of fun/clever how the story unfolded.

  5. I haven't watched the show but I've heard about it. Before the show started, just from the ads, I was afraid the mother had died in childbirth, from the way the doctor emphasized to the obviously grief-stricken father that he had two children who needed him. Then I heard there had been triplets, and they lost one. Then I heard about the adoption angle. I'm not sure I like the idea of a "replacement" baby and how quickly the adoption seemed to come together. And as someone above said, do you think we'll ever hear about the lost triplet again? But as I said, I haven't actually seen the show. ;)