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Saying Goodbye to “This Is Us”: What Did The Show Teach Us?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

After six years, 106 episodes, and countless tears, “This Is Us” has come to an end.

It left not only a legion of fans who feel like no new show could ever compare to this beautiful emotional rollercoaster, but also a series of lessons that came from each episode and are part of what makes it so unique. 

If you, like me, find “This Is Us” to be perhaps the best show of our time, buckle up and prepare for a train ride through some of the most important messages everyone should carry through life. But if you have yet to finish the series, watch out: there may be spoilers ahead.

Home is where the heart is (and so is family)

Talking about family in such an emotional show can sometimes be a lot to take, but among all the reflections the Pearsons brought us, there is something we can never forget: true family is made by the ones that stick around.

Randall is one solid example of this. Growing up without knowing his birth family never affected the love he had for his adoptive one, but it also didn’t stop him from reconnecting with William, his biological father, later on in his life, or digging through his birth mother’s past to know more about himself. It was never a choice between who his “real family” was, but a self-discovering journey that only added to who he and his family were.

If Randall is a good example, his daughter, Deja, is the perfect character to teach us about found family. Even though she loved her birth mom, Deja found in her adoptive family a new home that was far from perfect but loved and welcomed her exactly the way she needed.

Madison, for one, had no real connection to her parents and found in the Pearsons everything she had wished for, even when she and Kevin were no longer an item. Building separate lives ended up being healthier for them and their children, and even though they were never married, no one can say they were never a family. That just goes to show that family can come in all ways, shapes, and forms, and no model is more valid than the other.

Life gives you signs: pay attention to them

One thing “This Is Us” never failed to show its audience is that life is more complex than it seems — even if you don’t see it at first. Throughout the show, we were shown storylines that never seemed to be connected to the Pearsons, but eventually, it all fit together.

The first episode of season four introduced us to new characters such as Cassidy, Malik, and Jack Damon, who didn’t seem that important at first but were essential to the development of the show. The same can be said about season five “In The Room”, which shows the love story between Nasir Ahmed and his wife Esther, and later reveals that he is the man behind the invention of video chats, which allowed the Pearsons to be there for each other during the births of Hailey, Nick and Franny, and the whole world to feel connected during Covid-19.

The impact you have on other people can’t be measured or predicted, but sometimes signs are telling you what to do or who will make your journey easier. When that happens, listen. It’s just like Rebecca said in the finale: “When the world puts something this obvious in front of you, you don’t just walk away from it”.

They don’t have to be perfect just because they are your family

The Pearsons were always a loving and supporting family, but that never stopped them from having problems along the way. Spending time and sharing your life with someone brings out your differences, and the way you handle them is what changes how things are going to unravel from there. So, if you want a healthy relationship with your friends and family despite disagreements, learn from the Pearsons and don’t keep things to yourself: communicate.

Even the closest family members have different life experiences that change their perspective on things and can have an impact on how they view the same situation. It’s like Randall Pearson once said: “everyone sees their childhood with different lenses”. That means what was great for one kid might have been traumatizing for another, and even the most loving parents, like Jack and Rebecca, or the most supporting siblings, like Kevin and Kate, can sometimes scar their loved ones without even realizing it. That doesn’t mean no one should ever have children for fear they might end up damaged, it just means nobody is perfect and people scar people regardless of how put-together they are. There is no easy solution to make sure you are the best company you can be or to heal the scars you were given in the past, but seeking therapy, like Randall, can be healing not only for yourself but for those around you who are constantly impacted by your words and actions.

When life gives you lemons…

 From the first episode of “This Is Us”, there was one lesson that followed the Pearsons through all of the ups and downs along the way. Before the audience even knew what the show was about before it was revealed that everything was connected all along, a few comforting words from a doctor that just happened to be there changed not only how Jack handled what seemed to be the worse thing that could have happened to him, but also the perspectives of everyone who watched that first episode – and even the lives of the family who ended up being Jack Pearson’s last conversation before he died.

“I like to think that maybe one day you’ll be an old man like me, talking a younger man’s ear off, explaining to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then you will still be… taking three babies home from this hospital. Just maybe not the way you planned.”

At the end of the day, that is what “This Is Us” is all about: even the most difficult things in life can have a silver lining if you look hard enough. You might not see it at first, but if all things happen for a reason, there might just be a purpose for the sour lemons life throws at you.

It’s never really over

 Since the first season, “This Is Us” has dealt with death as part of life. The grief was never minimized and dying was never seen as the end of everything, but as something inevitable, that doesn’t have to be feared. When William was sick, Tess and Annie didn’t know how to deal with his imminent passing, and Kevin’s speech to them about the painting he made set the tone for how the next seasons would deal with death. 

 “A hundred years ago, some guy that I never met came to this country with a suitcase. He has a son, who has a son, who has me. So, at first, when I was painting, I was thinking, you know, maybe up here, that was that guy’s part of the painting, and then, you know, down here, that’s my part of the painting. And then I started to think, well, what if we’re all in the painting, everywhere? And what if we’re in the painting before we’re born? What if we’re in it after we die? And these colors that we keep adding, what if they just keep getting added on top of one another until eventually, we’re not even different colors anymore? We’re just one thing. One painting. I mean, my dad is not with us anymore. He’s not alive, but he’s with us. He’s with me every day. It all just sort of fits somehow. And even if you don’t understand how yet, people will die in our lives, people that we love. In the future. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe years from now. I mean, it’s kind of beautiful, right, if you think about it, the fact that just because someone dies, just because you can’t see them or talk to them anymore, it doesn’t mean they’re not still in the painting. I think maybe that’s the point of the whole thing. There’s no dying. There’s no you or me or them. It’s just us.”

The last few episodes of the show were very emotional, bringing closure to six years of raw emotions and the beautiful life of a key character: Rebecca Pearson. The life lesson she left us with was as valuable as every other she gave along with the show: “I really wish I had spent more time appreciating it when it was happening instead of worrying about when it would all end.”

 It’s not easy to see things end. But if “This Is Us” has taught us something, it’s that things happen for a reason, and you shouldn’t be sad about something beautiful ending – that only makes space for something even more special to begin.  “The way I see it, if something makes you sad when it ends, it must have been pretty wonderful when it was happening. Truth be told, I always felt it a bit lazy to just think of the world as sad, because so much of it is. Because everything ends. Everything dies. But if you step back, if you step back and look at the whole picture, if you’re brave enough to allow yourself the gift of a really wide perspective, if you do that, you’ll see that the end is not sad, Rebecca. It’s just the start of the next incredibly beautiful thing.”

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Bia Morrone

Casper Libero '24

A journalism student who loves to read, write and talk!
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