Art is created for various reasons. It is produced to make us laugh, cry, and even angry. Entertainment aims to constantly take a stab at our emotions, receiving a strong reaction; whether it is a positive or a negative one. One of the shows that have become widely associated with having people run out of tissue boxes, from you guessed it, all the crying is “This Is Us.” NBC’s emotional family saga is unlike no other. Tracing the Pearson clan across different generations, told in a non-linear storyline, the story is gripping just as much as it’s heart-wrenching. While “This Is Us” is a western show, it is easily one of the most shows out there that discusses universal issues making it relatable to all.
The Story & Storytelling Structure
One of the key unique aspects of the show is the story. In the show, we follow the Pearson family, the patriarch, Jack, and his wife Rebecca as they navigate the ups and downs of parenthood towards their triplets. Through these trials and tribulations, the story shifts through the present, past, and future being told from their kids’ perspectives as they grow and have kids of their own. While reading this quick summary might make the story seem simple and even mundane, at it is core, it is definitely not. The way in which every little detail is well thought out makes it quite interwoven, thanks to the clever and thoughtful writing of Dan Fogelman.
So what Arab show came close in the storytelling structure department? Well, Kheet Hareer (Silk) is still far away but it had elements here and there of following a non-linear storyline structure that truly garners the viewers’ attention, and that’s what made the plot seem fresh even though at the crux of it we’re just following a girl, Misk played by Mai Ezz El Dein who’s fallen in love with her boss’s son and his parents don’t approve. A run-of-the-mill plot, but the way in which the story is told, holds your attention, similar to “This Is Us” in that sense.
Another strong element within “This Is Us” is the romance. Within each corner you turn, there is a strong relationship that instantly melts your heart. From Jack and Rebecca’s to their kids when they grow up becoming adults and also forming romantic relationships that are ship worthy. The way in which the romance on the show seems effortless and unconditional makes it even more raw and special; leading us viewers to feel a sense of connection to these duos.
Similarly, on the Lebanese show, “Arous Beirut” (Beirut Bride) one of its strong components is romance. No one talks about the show without always having to bring up Fares played by Dhafer L’Abidine and Soraya played by Carmen Bsaibes. He laid eyes on her when she was singing at a club and the rest was well… history. In “This Is Us,” we also have the magic of Rebecca and Jack, who also happens to fall in love with her voice, evidently singing happens to be a turn-on in television. They fall in love and they also face several tribulations similar to Fares and Soraya but because their love is pure, they withstand these hurdles and are able to move past them, together, stronger. Leading us viewers, to incessantly say, awww.
The Family Dynamic
“This Is Us” in its essence is a family saga, so really the family dynamics are its strongest detail. The way in which the writing focuses on facets of each character, intermixing them together to create drama and tension while also heartwarming scenes on the other side of the scale of things. The Pearson family never fails to surprise us.. ranging from grief to happiness, they raise subjects that are discussed within our households or we wish that we can discuss, and they, therefore, open up an avenue for starting a dialogue.
The subjects discussed in “This Is Us” are universal, they are to some extent portrayed within the family dynamics of the “Abo El Arousa” (Father of the Bride) family household. Through Abdel Hamid’s family played by Saed Ragab you see issues discussed by Arab families also present in, “This Is Us”, in addition to them being fairly universal. Such as health, social status, and the generation gap.
While there is not yet an Arab show that encompasses every detail that “This Is Us” fabulously effortlessly juggles, the aforementioned do have some hints here and there and we come to appreciate them for trying to do something different in addition to starting important conversations.
But in the meantime, we recommend watching “This Is Us” which is currently airing its final season. Filled with rich characters and skilled writing, this is one show you won’t be sorry that you started watching, trust me.
WE SAID THIS: There are a lot of great shows out there, but “This Is Us” is definitely on a different playing field.