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This Is Us

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This is UsThe addictive, or cloyingly irritating, depending upon your ability to tolerate unironic schmaltz regarding parenting, childbirth, marriage, PTSD and loss, NBC’s newest season launched in January. This soap opera is a multigenerational family soap opera. LostIn between tears-jerker moments, there are many mystery to be solved by misdirection and storytelling tricks.

The most challenging such conundrum: Is Randall Pearson—the adopted black son who replaced a dead white triplet at birth—a true selfless hero or at least in part a self-important villain?

Randall’s extraordinary wonderfulness is accepted by the show; Sterling K. Brown, an incredibly strong and charming actor puts his thumb down on this scale. There could be signs of subterranean jaundiced attitudes when Randall becomes a Philly City Council member and is on his way towards national political stardom. Randall displays signs of the selfishness and incompetence of the politician in his private life. This could be whether he is forcing his family into chaos to pursue his goals; guilt-tripping the wife of his long-suffering husband when she attempts to do so); or forcing his mother to undergo treatment that her siblings and he do not desire.

Whatever the showrunners’ intentions, Randall’s actions hint at the dark side of people who are just trying to make things better for everyone—regardless of whether their victims want the help.

Reason.com first published the post This Is Us