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It was a night for family as the cast and creator of NBC and 20th Century Fox Television’s This Is Us gathered for their For Your Consideration Emmy event in Hollywood on Wednesday. It was held at Le Jardin and included live performances from series leading lady Mandy Moore, guest star Brian Tyree Henry and composer Siddhartha Khosla, who re-created music from the family drama for guests.
The cast also walked the red carpet for the event, telling The Hollywood Reporter why they believe Dan Fogelman’s time-jumping family story resonates with audiences in a time when darker themes have become so prevalent on television.
“I don’t think that you can discount timing. I think people really needed a show like this in the world right now. I hope that our show is starting a trend, meandering back to hopeful and kind,” Moore says. “These characters are inherently good people; there aren’t any antiheroes. I think the day in age we’re living in people are really hungry for that.”
“We live in such a cynical time, and reason to be cynical abounds,” star Sterling K. Brown noted. And while he admits that he nearly fainted with anticipation watching a trailer for the upcoming season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, he understands the importance of counterprogramming. “These are divided times in these United States of America, and I feel like our show reminds everybody that we all love our family — that we can all agree on something.”
That is a sentiment television veteran Gerald McRaney (aka the memorable doctor from the pilot and subsequent episodes) believes as well. “There’s no mean-spiritedness, really. There are problems; there’s conflict. You can’t have drama without conflict. But there’s not that mean-spirited quality that has crept into a lot of the drama that goes on today. And I think people were ready for the relief of that,” he says. “There’s a lot of violence going on in the world. We don’t need to tune in once a week to see more of it. It’s there, we recognize it, we acknowledge it. But we’d rather see something else. So for this hour, we’re going to have something else.”
Susan Kelechi Watson (Brown’s on-screen wife, Beth) could not agree more with her co-stars. “We forgot that we actually value family, love and respect and all those things in our entertainment. This show, I think, found that space that people may have been missing and not even realizing.”
It’s that place that the cast believes This Is Us thrives, filling a hole that some didn’t even realize existed. Those who tune in can see themselves in various characters throughout the show and see the topics explored that might go unspoken in their real lives.
“It’s a show that really exposes what we’re all going through and we don’t necessarily want to talk about. Whether it’s race or weight, paternity issues, a family member that’s ill or potentially passing. There’s a lot of really great television, but it doesn’t focus on the human condition,” Chrissy Metz (Kate) says. “I think that we all are craving something like this because not everybody’s experienced being a superhero or a spy or whatever it is. But people know what it’s like to be human and trying to figure this thing called life out.”
As Ron Cephas Jones (William) explains, exploring the human condition the way this show does is a very different experience than many expect when they turn on the TV. “Most of the time we go to television to escape,” he says. “This show lets you escape inside. This show makes you feel comfortable to feel — to feel a lot of things that on a normal basis we’re pushing away and trying to get away from.”
“There’s a relief people get knowing that their lives are not so different from our characters on TV,” star Milo Ventimiglia (Jack) concludes.
This Is Us returns in the fall on NBC.
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