This Is Us

“Birth Mother”

Dir. Kay Oyegun

Wri. Eboni Freeman and Kay Oyegun

8.5/10

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I won’t lie — there is a lot one could dislike about last night’s episode of

I seemed to be in the minority last week of being barely lukewarm on an episode most people seemed to enjoy, so I have a feeling I will be back in the minority this week, loving an episode that I know in my heart is not among the series best.

After all, this episode seems to be solidifying an unlikeable pattern that is emerging this season. Last week, Kate’s post-Marc trauma was lifted off her almost as quickly as her pregnancy and abortion storyline was introduced, liberating her in an annoyingly uncomplicated way. This week, we have the same for Randall; Sterling K. Brown spends most of the episode in stunned silence with moistened eyes and a slack jaw, only to let out a cathartic scream and drive out of New Orleans a new man. His birth mother loved him after all! It’s a beautiful moment that still feels conspicuously unearned; Randall only found out last episode (one week ago, in our universe) that Laurel survived her overdose. It puts some understandable yet still very convenient bows on the Laurel plot, and it gives Randall such a reprieve from his trauma we have to think, “Okay, where is the rest of this season even (If the final act is any indication, we’re about to get a “what was Kevin up to this whole time?” …


This Is Us
“A Long Road Home”

Dir. Anne Fletcher
Wri. K.J. Steinberg
6.0/10

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knew that after more than a month away, it had to do big work to advance the plot. And, to be fair, this episode really did. While has a tendency to occasionally meander in nothingness and stretch 42-minute episodes into an eternity of morose montages in which nothing is accomplished, writer K.J. Steinberg managed to cram in a lot here. We have Randall learning about Laurel, worrying that William betrayed him, talking to his therapist and learning that William did betray him all in one episode. We have Kate telling the story of her abortion, looking up Marc and confronting him as an adult all in one episode. We have Kevin… well, we have Kevin having a same-but-different conflict with Madison that he did last episode, so you can’t win ’em all. Nevertheless, a happens in this episode. …


This Is Us
“Changes”
7.8/10

Dir. Ken Olin
Wri.: Elan Mastai

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When I think of the perfect episode of I picture myself like a grandmother passing down a family recipe that she never wrote down, but is nevertheless extremely picky about. It should have It should make me cringe, but never for more than 40 seconds. It should have not a sprinkle, but a of Rebecca, even if she isn’t the main dish.

And, for me, the perfect episode is one where Kevin is the focus.

Last week my major complaint with an otherwise solid episode of was about the pacing, and how the emotional payoff didn’t seem to arrive until late in the third act. This week’s episode, while perhaps less emotionally weighty than the first two of the season, fixed its pacing problems thanks to tight, intricate and never over-indulgent scripting by Elan Mastai. It’s admittedly very easy to do that with a Kevin episode because while his siblings have a tendency to internalize their trauma in ways that are harder to show onscreen, Kevin projects everything through physical, tangible actions, whether it’s through his addictions, over-working or his overly showy, generous nature. …


This Is Us
“Changes”
6.7/10

Dir. Anne Fletcher
Wri.: Kevin Falls

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Last week in my inaugural recap/review, I remarked how had, much to my relief, handled its new COVID reality pretty well, even if I might welcome the 90’s flashbacks that much more in order to give me some time away from the utter bummer that is our current reality. It’s been part of the show’s tendency to always pleasantly surprise me by being a little bit more self-aware than I give it credit for. This week, it presented the COVID context with much more confidence; after its conspicuous introduction in the premiere week that couldn’t help but verge on clumsy at times, covering up Rebecca’s episode in a so-so manner, the pandemic is now simply part of the Pearsons’ lives. Kate and Toby joke about what masks to wear to meet a prospective birth mother. Kevin works out in the garage. …



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It’s a bit of an edgelord take to declare that (U.S. version)isn’t actually a good show. It might even be a bit of a meaningless critique to say that it hasn’t aged well. (“This hasn’t aged well” is the “This is overrated” of the current decade; it’s an easy, catch-all critique of something without having to be very specific or provide much proof). as a whole, complete unit is seen as great because of its brilliant peaks, with its valleys long forgotten.

Once in a while, one brave human being will take to their keyboard to point out that Jim Halpert was actually the worst. His pranks were disruptive, he was judgmental toward Michael and, frankly, he wasn’t a particularly great husband or father. But a more specific criticism of Jim — Jim the character, the product of nine seasons full of writers rooms and production tweaks, not Jim the man — is that he is a Mary Sue. …


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Sometimes I think the true bottoming out of pop culture began when Chris Pratt lost weight. Not he lost weight, but it was around that time.

Pratt was known for little more than his role as chubby goofball Andy Dwyer on when he was chosen for the lead role of Starlord in Marvel’s While Pratt had to undergo a way over-publicized body transformation for the role, it otherwise wasn’t hard to see why he was chosen. Through his portrayal of Dwyer, Pratt had carved himself out a cozy little place in the hearts of TV viewers. Andy was a sweet, dimwitted goofball, a devoted husband and a dependable best friend. Even his flaws — extreme irresponsibility and incomprehensible stupidity — were cute and the source of most of the series’ biggest laughs. Beyond the spectre of Pratt and every character he played were shoved down our collective throats as a loveable, carefree oaf who also happened to have a rockin’ bod. He became a light box office draw, and his character slowly started commanding more attention on the show that made him famous. …


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In 2018, Sterling K. Brown guest-starred in an episode of titled “The Box.” In it, Brown plays a dentist, one Jake and Captain Holt have deemed clearly guilty of murdering his partner, but who is holding up and keeping his cool under the pressure of the interrogation. He’s arrogant, he’s cold-hearted and he’s always one step ahead of the cops, and even when he admits to the murder, he’s boastful and sees himself as exceptional — it’s that exceptionalism that leads him to inadvertently confess in the first place.

The Season 4 finale of proves that Randall Pearson, the character that made Brown a primetime TV mainstay, might actually be a bigger psychopath. …


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It took me two years, but I finally fell out of love with I no longer cry during episodes. I no longer find Jonathan Van Ness cute.

This time last year, I still enjoyed At this point, I knew that there was a strong leftist critique against it, and I agreed with almost all those critiques. has never been activist media — it’s in the same vein as and . However, I also believed (and still believe) that all media is inherently capitalist, and trying to find media that isn’t problematic is usually a race to the bottom. …


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I can’t explain why, on a sleepy, Saturday afternoon trip to Blockbuster, my sixth-grade self picked out as her weekend VHS choice. I had few limitations on what I watched as a kid, so having seen both and at age nine convinced me that once I hit double-digits it was a literal sin to watch anything rated PG ever again. More curse words meant a higher quality movie. More nudity meant I was smarter.

broke that. A movie filled with all the slapdash slapstick comedy and absurdly dated gender stereotypes that should have delighted my 11-year-old brain left me bordering on angry. It might have very well been the first time that I at something that I knew was to make me laugh, and that I wasn’t won over by characters merely screaming and calling that comedy. …

About

Bree Rody, professional hate-watcher

I have a lot of feelings about movies and TV shows that would be embarrassing if it weren’t 2020.

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