Will There Be a 'This Is Us' Spinoff?

Series creator Dan Fogelman weighs in on the idea.
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

NBC on Wednesday handed out a huge two-season, 36-episode renewal for its breakout freshman drama This Is Us. Given the Dan Fogelman-created show's status as a rare broadcast ratings breakout, it's fair to ask about the future of the franchise.

The Hollywood Reporter posed that question to Fogelman, whose Fox drama Pitch remains on the bubble, following his time onstage at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

"Not yet," he said when asked if he'd been approached about doing a spinoff of the time-jumping family drama. "We're still so early. I haven't thought about it, not yet. Rather than doing a spinoff, I'd rather keep it within this series at first."

As an example, Fogelman cited Tuesday's stand-alone flashback episode that focused on the events before the pilot when two of the family's "Big Three" were born. The hour featured a heartbreaking performance from guest-star Gerald McRaney, who plays Dr. K — the doc who delivered two of the family's children. Fogelman said the audience "went with it" and that gave him hope that viewers would continue to enjoy episodes that don't feature the kids played by Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley.

"In a couple of episodes, there's an episode that's entirely with Sterling and I think our audience will go with it," he said. "If well-executed, what would be a spinoff can just be done as an arc or a couple of episodes in our series. It helps make it so that the series doesn't become the same thing over and over and over again and start boring the audience. I think that's important."

Fogelman's comments come in an era where delivering a true hit has become challenging amid a so-called "Peak TV" scripted landscape that consists of more than 450 originals. Empire co-creator Lee Daniels recently reiterated plans to delve into a spinoff of Empire, broadcast's No. 1 drama among adults 18-49 and total viewers. And NBC on Wednesday announced plans to revisit Will & Grace as today's era of nostalgia and fragmented viewership rely heavily on familiar titles.

Other news coming from This Is Us on Wednesday included that Katie Couric would guest-star as herself in an upcoming episode in which she interviews Justin Hartley's character. Atlanta breakout Brian Tyree Henry will also appear in an upcoming episode.

As for the structure of seasons two and three, Fogelman stressed that the 18-episode orders would again likely be split in two arcs, one before the holiday break and the other after. Also interesting is the fact that NBC will carry the Super Bowl next year with many networks using the prime post-game slot to air its biggest hit, a fact that isn't lost on Fogelman.

As for the future of Fox's Pitch — which wrapped its 10-episode arc last year — Fogelman said he remains "optimistic" about a second season. Expect a decision on that to come in May. 

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