At the TCA’s: This is Us Returns!

NBC brought their mega-hit show “This Is Us” to the TCAs to discuss their heavily-anticipated second season. The panel included the majority of the cast, including Ron Cephas Jones (William Hill), Chris Sullivan (Toby Damon), Susan Kelechi Watson (Beth Pearson), Justin Hartley (Kevin Pearson), Chrissy Metz (Kate Pearson), Sterling K. Brown (Randall Pearson), Mandy Moore (Rebecca Pearson), Milo Ventimiglia (Jack Pearson) and Dan Fogelman (Showrunner/Executive Producer).

At the recent Emmys, “This Is Us” – nominated for 11 awards – won two, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Sterling K. Brown and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, Gerald McRaney.

So where does “This Is Us” pickup for season 2? Showrunner/Executive Producer Dan Fogelman sketched out the two timelines. “The present-day story is the story of the big three kids.  A little bit of time has passed, so we’re kind of catching up to them a month or two later. We’re picking up on their 37th birthday.  Like, we started the pilot on their 36th and we’re picking it up on their 37th.” 

We’ll be catching up with Randall and Beth as they proceed on this adoption quest and Kate as she progresses on a singing career and Kevin as he’s doing his film and kind of working on his romantic relationship with his ex-wife.  

Fogelman continues. “The past story basically picks up the day after the finale, so it’s basically the morning after the big fight that has led to an early separation between Jack and Rebecca.”

The dual timelines allow characters like William Hill to still show up in the past but the big pressing question remains – how and when did Jack die?

The question was asked and not answered but Fogelman mused on the nature of the show. “It was always part of our plan is that the very nature of the show is that you’re jumping in time.  The premise of the show is that you’re watching how the past informs the present.” He said, “While we, on occasion, can have a ghost having a conversation with somebody or a character tripping out on mushrooms and speaking to his father, usually the characters exist in actual scenes that just happened at an earlier time.”

There are many keys to the success of “This Is Us” but Emmy-winner Sterling K. Brown kicked the praise to the writers’ room. “These writers are killing it.  The level of introspection and thought.  Like, they bring in people for transracial adoptions to talk to them about storylines, so it’s not just coming up willynilly.  It’s a really sensitive and thoughtful procedure with really talented writers.

Added Fogelman, “People really care.  Our group really cares.  The actors care.  The writers care.  The writers care so much that I can’t leave the office because we’re analyzing everything.  But really, the directors, our producers, our crew, they care so much.  It is a big part of all of this.”

This close-knit cast promises “lightning strikes twice” with the season 2 scripts they’ve read, which will excite their devoted audience. “This Is Us” returns Tuesday, September 26 at 9 pm on NBC.