‘This Is Us’: Why Fans May Never Get On Board With ‘A Million Little Things’

NBC’s This Is Us is a revolutionary show in its own right. Among the newer shows compared to This Is Us, is ABC’s A Million Little Things. The two have similar tones. That aside, here’s why true This Is Us fans may not welcome A Million Little Things with open arms.

The premise of ‘AMLT’ struggles to balance heavy and light

Milo Ventimiglia and the cast of "This Is Us" at the Screen Actors Guild Awards
Milo Ventimiglia and the cast of “This Is Us” at the Screen Actors Guild Awards | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The premise of This Is Us revolves around family dynamics. This Is Us dissects the lives of whom Jack Pearson affected. While there are many layers, timelines, and story arcs, the show is family-centric, navigating life’s challenges.

This Is Us seems to have mastered the balance of grief and hope. For instance, after the Pearson home burned down, Jack revealed he’d saved a few important items from the house. The show regularly inserts levity without it feeling forced.

A Million Little Things revolves around friendship dynamics with a look at how the group finds new hope and meaning after one of their own dies by suicide. The incredibly heavy topic isn’t always on par with the ill-timed humor.

‘AMLT’ dissects friendship while ‘TIU’ is about family

Again, A Million Little Things follows a group of friends after one of their own dies by suicide. Those left behind try to piece together “a million little things” to understand why it happened. There are some similar themes of mourning, loss, and grief, with some version of hope as well.

One issue some have Tweeted about, is how A Million Little Things handles its underlying messages. The balance of heavy and light feels off, according to some. The same day the friends grieve at Jon’s funeral, they’re laughing and drinking around a bonfire.

This isn’t to say A Million Little Things can’t, or shouldn’t, juxtapose hope with grief — it’s that some think it fails to do so. It’s a delicate line to straddle without alienating viewers. This Is Us fans will tell you there was no celebrating the day the Pearsons buried Jack.

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Early reviews of the show critiqued the straddling of heavy and light. The show’s premise suggests this group of friends only realized what was important after Jon’s death. Some said it’s as if his death was necessary for the group to prioritize.

A review in the Huffington Post said, Jon’s death as something for the greater good “seeks to imbue needless suffering with nobility and casts the dead and hurting as sacrifices offered up for the benefit of, well, the rest of us.”

Another review in The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “This Is Us treated Jack as a real person before treating him like a dead person.” This suggests how little viewers get to know Jon before his time is up. With This Is Us, you get a sense of who Jack Pearson is long before his tragic death.

There is no character in ‘AMLT’ comparative to Jack Pearson from ‘TIU’

Save for who Jon Dixon in A Million Little Things, there are no central characters relative to Jack Pearson. Each character on A Million Little Things has his or her own strengths and flaws, as does the cast of This Is Us. But, where Jon Dixon’s character may be forgettable, Jack Pearson just isn’t.

Season 2 of A Million Little Things may explore Jon’s personality more. That might help undecided viewers to tune in. Without understanding his character, it could be difficult for This Is Us fans to feel for him, or those his death affected.

The exploration of family dynamics in ‘TIU’ may be more compelling than friendship in ‘AMLT’

It’s not to say friendship isn’t important. It is. Fans of A Million Little Things will lean into the friendships as they navigate life after loss. But, not everyone can relate to those dynamics.

Most can relate to the complex web of family dynamics, as seen in This Is Us. You don’t have to have the exact experiences of either show to feel connected to the characters; this is just a difference between the two.

The ‘clues’ that explained Jon’s death in ‘AMLT’ didn’t lead to the same payoff as Jack’s death on ‘TIU’

A Million Little Things successfully created a lot of buzz before its series debut. All clues Jon left behind appeared to be as cryptic as those surrounding Jack Pearson’s death on This Is Us.

The only difference is, This Is Us had a bigger payoff. After a full season teasing Jack’s death, the reveal satisfied.

Jon’s clues may not have been enough. By the end of A Million Little Things Season 1, revelations as to why Jon ended his life didn’t have as much of an impact.

The reasons aren’t any less tragic. The setup, clues, and climax of those answers weren’t nearly as riveting as promos led fans to believe.

All in all, fans of This Is Us might enjoy A Million Little Things if taken as it is. If the two are compared, the playing fields are totally different.