This Is Us recap episode one

WARNING: Spoilers ahead.

I was warned about This Is Us – but I didn’t listen. “You’ll cry,” they said. “You’ll never guess the twist,” they said. “You’ll become obsessed,” they said. They were right.

I should have seen the warning signs, but I was blindsided by Milo Ventimiglia in the nude. Can I just say that any show that opens with Milo in the buff is a winner in my books.

But I knew Mandy Moore was trouble when she walked in. I’ve barely recovered from her heartbreaking performance in A Walk To Remember (yes, I’m aware it came out in 2002 thank you).

Okay, time to dive in.

Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) play an adorable couple celebrating Jack’s 36th birthday. Rebecca is heavily pregnant with triplets and her water breaks during her seductive happy birthday dance for Jack. Cue. The. Drama.

Rebecca has a high-risk birth ahead of her and their doctor is unable to make it. She’s very stressed. I’m very stressed. Enter hero of the hour, Dr K (Gerald McRaney). Sometimes all you need in life is for a wise old man in a white suit, who smells of butterscotch (okay, so that bit was probably just in my imagination), to tell you everything is going to be just fine. Jack and Rebecca believe him. I believe him. The whole world believes him. Only everything isn’t fine.

Meanwhile siblings Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Kate (Chrissy Metz) are also celebrating their 36th birthday. Kate is struggling with weight issues, and Kevin is having an early mid-life crisis. Kevin is the star of a sitcom and has a gloriously epic career-destroying adult tantrum on set. It’s hilarious, but also immensely satisfying to watch – it’s the exact meltdown exit you dream about making after a horrible day at work… No doubt the consequences will be less satisfying. Whilst they are both clearly going through a tough time, the relationship between the siblings is a joy to watch and instantly believable. Chrissy and Justin are faultless.

Across town hot-shot lawyer Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is celebrating his (you guessed it) 36th birthday. It just so happens that on this day, he finds his biological father who left him at a fire station as a child. Everything about their meeting for the first time is perfect. Sterling’s performance as Randall barely keeping it together in front of his wife and children will leave you breathless. As will his reaction when his new-found father tells him that he can’t be in his life as he is actually dying. In case you weren’t already sobbing by now, this is the scene that would have tipped you over the edge.

But that’s what is so great about This Is Us. We’re not going to get the usual glossy version of life on TV. These stories feel real from the outset. The characters are convincingly flawed (apart from Jack, who is PERFECT). It’s messy, embarrassing, hilarious and at times downright devastating.

Rebecca and Jack lose one of their triplets. Dr K breaks the news to Jack in what has to be one of the best written and delivered scenes on TV, well, EVER.

And then, there’s the twist. We are running on two separate timelines. Jack’s birthday is happening 36 years before his children – Kate, Kevin and his adopted son Randall’s. Minds. Blown.

If you need me, I’m curled up on the couch in the foetal position trying to recover from the brutal emotional onslaught that was episode one.

But despite the trauma, this is actually a time to rejoice. Finally we have a frog-in-the-throat-sob-snort-inducing drama back to fill the 8:30pm Wednesday night slot. Hallelujah.

Related stories