'This Is Us' Renewed for Second and Third Seasons at NBC

Plus, Dan Fogelman speaks with reporters about his long-term plan for the series, whose renewal takes it through the 2018-19 frame.
Ron Batzdorff/NBC
'This Is Us'

NBC has made its first renewal for the 2017-18 broadcast season, and it should come as no surprise.

The network on Wednesday announced at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour that it has handed out an early second — and third — season pickup to Dan Fogelman's breakout drama This Is Us. Each season will have 18 episodes, fitting since the show revolves around a family of 36-year-olds.

“We all got our wish that this is a hit show,” said NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. “This Is Us is as good as anything we’ve ever had. We’re thrilled to renew it for two seasons and there’s no doubt it will have a long life on NBC. On behalf of everyone at NBC, we’re grateful for the artistry of the cast, crew, and producers assembled by our gifted creator, Dan Fogelman. In a world where there are literally hundreds of television dramas, we’re proud to have one of the very best that is also one of the highest-rated. And a special thanks to our partners at 20th Century Fox Television who supplied us with this incredible show.”

The family drama with a time-jumping twist is one of two dramas Fogelman set up this broadcast season after moving from ABC Studios to 20th Century Fox Television with a lucrative overall deal. (The other, Fox baseball drama Pitch, remains firmly on the bubble after wrapping its 10-episode run in 2016.)

Starring Milo Ventimigila, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley, NBC's This Is Us ranks as the No. 2 drama on broadcast (trailing only Fox's Empire) among the key adults 18-49 demo and total viewers. Thus far this season, it has averaged 14.6 million total viewers and a 4.6 among adults 18-49. The series has become the fall's breakout freshman drama.

It earned a quick full-season order (after only one episode), with its first-year order consisting of 18 installments. (Fogelman has made a point of saying that he wasn't interested in a standard 22- or 24-episode season.) The series also was the benefactor of a viral trailer in May, which collected more than 127 million views ahead of its series debut.

The show's success also has prompted a wave of family soaps this development season.

Fogelman, joined Wednesday by the cast of This Is Us on the TCA stage, noted that he has a long-term plan in mind for the series. "I know where the show goes — I have a number of seasons in my brain and we'll see as we get there," he said. "In success, people will want more and in failure, they'll want less. I know where the series goes for multiple seasons, but in terms of overriding numbers, I don't know."

The episode in which Randall (Brown) hallucinated and saw visions of his late father Jack (Ventimiglia) also laid the groundwork for the series to feature its adult characters interacting with those who may have passed on in a different timeline.

"With the nature of timeline, we'll never run out of stories," said Fogelman, referring to Tuesday's flashback episode and viewers' interest in other characters such as Dr. K (Gerald McRaney), who delivered two of the show's so-called Big Three. "Our audience will go back if [they are interested in meeting] Dr. K as a 30-year-old man. It creates opportunity with the show." 

Next week's episode also will delve more into Jack's death, which was revealed in the series premiere but has not been directly addressed since. Fogelman stressed the importance of revealing key parts of the family's story while still threading the needle of the show's big picture. 
 
"There's a hinge in this family, and it's a before with Jack and after," he said. "That will be interesting in future seasons as we go forward to show what that hinge was and what happened to people before and after. We'll slowly but surely learn how and when. Hopefully that takes many more episodes." 

Asked specifically about the driving force to the impressive views for the trailer over the summer, Fogelman credited Ventimiglia's willingness to reveal his, ahem, assets. Chimed in co-star Chris Sullivan, who plays Toby: "This Is Ass."

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