The hit show, This Is Us, has been a popular choice that many of us look forward to and want to experience every week when it airs.
Every couple of years, a show comes along that can tug, viciously, at your heartstrings and evoke all of the emotions. For a little over a year, that show has been This is Us. Featured on ABC’s fall premiere season in 2016, viewers became instantly hooked on the triumphs and troubles of the Pearson family. This season, the show is still going strong and viewers tune in every week so the show can make them cry, but why? Why is This is Us so popular?
Good writing is meant to connect with you emotionally, it’s meant to pull feelings from within that you didn’t realize were there. This is true for books, television shows, or movies; the writing is meant to inspire you and dig deep within you. Sometimes the writing falls short and you’re not really all that impressed about what is happening on the screen in front of you and sometimes it doesn’t. There have been many times in television history when the writing hits exactly the right spot and brings all of our emotions right to the surface. For a long time, it was Grey’s Anatomy. Now it’s This Is Us.
The Right Formula
For a show to reach its audience the way This is Us touches its fans, the show has to follow a formula. The first ingredient in the formula is the writing, which we’ve already discussed. If the writers on this show were substandard, people wouldn’t be able to connect with the Pearson clan and the probably wouldn’t have the viewership that they do. The writers create realistic dialogue and situations to evoke emotions that you thought were hidden away. They’re daring you not to feel something.
The second part of the formula is that there has to be at least one character to whom the viewer can relate. The person has to be real to the viewer; they have to have flaws and all of the personality traits need to be evident. A perfectly sculpted supermodel with no issues isn’t going to appeal to anyone as a real character, but make her a perfectly sculpted supermodel who has a problem with stealing and body issues, and instantly people will relate to her because she has flaws. Real people have imperfections, so the perfect family in their perfect house with their perfect careers isn’t going to interest anyone.
The third part of the formula to draw people in is that there has to be conflict. As we’ve previously discussed, no one is perfect so we don’t want to see perfect on our television series. We want the good, the bad, and the ugly. We want to see the seedy underbelly of the seemingly unflawed family sitting around the dinner table. We want to see some conflict, so in order for a show to be appealing, the writers have to create some of the classic conflict scenarios including, man vs. man, man vs. self, and man vs. nature.
The final part of the formula is an eventual resolution of some of the conflict. We need to see some kind of happiness come out of all of the sadness. Sure, a constant source of sadness makes for a lot of emotional conflict and people will cry their eyes out each week, but if you keep making people cry without making them smile, they’re not going to keep coming back. Eventually, they’ll get sick of sadness and move on. This Is Us does a great job of keeping some conflict ongoing while solving some of the other problems on the show. It just keeps getting better and better as time goes by and it keeps drawing people in.
Part of the reason This Is Us is so popular is because the writers follow this formula. The other part of why people love this show is because of the actors involved in the project. A lot of the actors play their part in such a relatable way that viewers are instantly attracted to the people they’re playing. This Is Us is the right combination of pretty people with problems and realistic family issues, and that is why people keep coming back.