‘This Is Us’: Why Some Fans Weren’t Thrilled With the Season 5 Premiere
Well, the two-hour season 5 premiere of This Is Us came and went after a delayed start. Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, This Is Us writers had to figure out a way to continue storylines that already had previous (partial) revelations. Unfortunately, some fans say it just didn’t work.
[Minor spoilers for the This Is Us Season 5 premiere below.]
The season 5 premiere of ‘This Is Us’ didn’t please some fans
At the start of the This Is Us Season 5 premiere, viewers are immediately transported back into the Pearson saga. Madison (Caitlin Thompson) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) have the talk about her pregnancy — with twins — adding that news of a global pandemic might complicate things.
Once things got going, the pandemic became its own character. Stars of the show donned face masks, they social-distanced and spoke of quarantines — just as we the people have lived over the last eight months.
“So disappointed!!” one fan commented on the show’s Instagram post.
“Why the virus. This was our escape !!!!!!!!!! So disappointed,” another said.
“I’ve so been looking forward to my show again..to finally escape all the craziness…but here it is, I HATE THEY CHOOSE THIS ROUTE!!!! Ppl need a relief!!!” another added.
The comments on both Instagram and Twitter go on and on, with some defending the writers’ choice to implement real-world happenings. Aside from the harsh realities of COVID-19, another storyline made its way into This Is Us that has fans even more divided.
Did real-world additions cause this major plot hole?
This Is Us is known and loved for the way it incorporates real-life experiences. However, some didn’t think the premiere made sense when a real-life event found its way into the show.
The May 25 death of George Floyd sparked nation-wide protests and remains ever-present in our everyday lives. In a move that many deem “too political,” series creator Dan Fogelman defended putting Floyd’s death, protests, and the Black Lives Matter movement into the show.
“I think our country is having complicated conversations right now. Our writer’s room certainly was having them, both as it affected our daily lives as people who care about one another and have spent the last five years working together, and also as people who felt responsible to figure out what the story was for these characters inside of this episode,” Fogelman told Entertainment Weekly.
He continued: “A lot of it was also extra challenging because we kept reminding ourselves — and Kay [Oyegun, who co-wrote the episode with Fogelman and Jake Schnesel] was great at constantly reminding us that these aren’t just people who are friends or work together. This is a family. So that makes for a very, very specific dynamic, right?”
The storyline makes sense in the grand scheme of ‘This Is Us’
Fogelman explained that protests were happening outside the Los Angeles hospital the night his wife, Thompson (who plays Madison on the show), gave birth to their son, Benjamin.
“When I came back to work pretty quickly, there was a lot in the air. Our staff, from assistants on down, are hopefully told to and empowered to participate in conversations so that we can have a collective conversation,” he said.
He later added: “When we were on set that day, watching these two wonderful actors read those words that Kay had written, I think we all recognized that we were watching something really special, just two actors really digging in on something that I hadn’t really seen before.”
Some fans felt the addition of Floyd’s death not only added to the political discussion between Pearsons, but didn’t exactly fit the timeline. With the “Big 3” celebrating their 40th birthday at the end of Aug., it makes sense for protests to be ongoing — but not for Randall (Sterling K. Brown) to find out about Floyd’s death so close to their cabin celebration.
The show is known for time jumps, so it all computes if you don’t put too much thought into the season 4 finale without COVID-19, the start of season 5 with COVID-19, plus everything happening with the state of the world and BLM.
How will the remainder of season 5 look?
All of the above is a lot to take in (and we won’t even touch the shocking ending). Rest assured, Fogelman and his team have a plan the spans through the series finale.
“I keep saying, ‘As if juggling this show with 18,000 timelines and characters isn’t hard enough,'” Fogelman told EW this summer.
“I can’t tell you the amount of debate that has gone into everything from our show existing in a world that corona has not happened — like many shows are going to choose to do — to making an entire first nine episodes all happening during a quarantine period in our off-season. We’ve been all over the map. I think we have a plan that splits the balance.”
As far as incorporating real-world issues, it hasn’t changed the endgame plan for This Is Us, which is due to close after season 6. But, it still comes with challenges some might not realize.
“It has allowed us to stick with our plan for the shape of the characters’ storylines, but makes present a whole host of different feelings and issues as we all try to make sense of our world right now,” he said.
“There’s a lot of things hanging in the balance. And that can often be a meditative time where you’re thinking, ‘Where does life go from here?’ And I think on a macro level, zooming out, I think that’s where a lot of people find themselves right now, which is: What happens next? What do I want for my family and for the world right now? How do I make sense of all the darkness? I think that leads to a lot.”
Will COVID-19 be in every episode?
Whether the show continues showing characters in masks, social-distancing, and/or discussing racially-charged events, Fogleman added that those very real things are what make up the show as a whole.
“Our show has different characters in different stages of life, older characters battling illness,” he said. “Not every character, every storyline is going to be all COVID all the time. It’s going to be present in the world as it’s present in our lives right now. Our lives haven’t stopped, but they’ve been pretty altered. What we want to try to do is find the balance.”
There you go. Love the premiere or hate it — This Is Us will pick back up after the election.