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TV Review: This is Us (Season 2, Episode 2)

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Following last week’s beautiful opening episode, This is Us has once again reminded audiences why it is so endearing.

A testament to the reputation which the show has gained, Episode Two of the second season deals further with the sensitive foundations laid in the opening episode. 

After the previous revelation of Jack’s drinking habits, the events which unfolded throughout the episode provided a touching and emotional portrayal of the effects of alcoholism on family dynamics. Milo Ventimiglia put up a stellar performance, reflecting Jack’s inner shame and difficulty in dealing with his own drawbacks.

The relationship between Jack and his only daughter, Kate, was also delicately portrayed, providing an image of a father-daughter relationship which will be familiar to many. The connection between Jack and Kate is made all the more painful by the prior knowledge of Jack’s death which audiences are party to. When Jack’s demise is finally included, it will surely make for painful watching. 

The exploration of the relationship between Kate and her father also helps to emphasise the tension which Kate evidently feels with regards to her mother, Rebecca. It has been evident from the start of season one that the pair are not on the best of terms, however, this episode gave voice to some of these issues. The decision made by Kate, to pursue singing professionally, laid the ground work for a deeper insight into the strain in her maternal relationship, as Rebecca also pursued a career in singing.

Again, emphasising one of the unique qualities of This is Us, Kate’s attitude towards her mother, both in the present-day and flash-back scenes, is highly recognisable. The episode interestingly explains why this attitude exists and provides some resolution between the two, and hope for future episodes. 

Another endearing insight into a difficult relationship, which has formed a major part of the series thus far, came in the form of Kevin’s discussion with Beth about Randall. Kevin proved that, despite the two brothers’ not necessarily always seeing eye-to-eye, their bond is one which runs deep. The anecdotal tale of the beginnings of Beth and Randall’s relationship paired with Randall’s support of Kevin’s endeavours as ‘The Manny’, emphasised that despite the fraternal rivalry, encouragement is a key part of their relationship - a fact which has not always been apparent in previous episodes. 

The struggle of Beth and Randall in their decision to foster a child from a disadvantaged background is a story-line with a lot of potential. Paralleling with Randall’s own adoption, it will be thought-provoking to see a more realistic take from This is Us on the topic of adoption. While the story of the arrival of Randall into the Pearson family was wonderful, it is a unique story-line which many will be unable to relate to.

Randall and Beth’s decision to foster a disadvantaged child brings the discussion of this issue onto a more realistic level and will hopefully emphasise real-life issues, raising awareness of the realities of adoption and providing a fulfilling storyline for future episodes.

This Is Us: Season 2 airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on More 4.

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