[Warning: Severe spoilers for the This Is Us series premiere ahead. Read at your own risk!]
Did you see the twist at the end of This Is Us coming? We can bet you didn't. Now the secret is out: All of the dramedy's storylines are connected because they are actually one big family. Through a twist of fate, Mandy Moore's and Milo Ventimiglia's characters, Rebecca and Jack, are the parents of Sterling K. Brown's Randall, Chrissy Metz's Kate and Justin Hartley's Kevin.
It was a mind-blowing twist revealed in the final moments of the episode when cameras pulled back to reveal that Rebecca and Jack's storyline is taking place in 1980, while the kids are reaching milestones in their own lives in present time. The twist adds a connective tissue to the heartstring-tugging stories, making the show even more like Parenthood than all of the previews suggested. But where does the show go from here?
"[Executive producer] John Glenn and I describe it as, like, a dramedy version of Lost where you have to understand how everyone's connected and then kind of explore these people as they move forward," creator Dan Fogelman explained at the Television Critics Association fall previews. "Milo and Mandy's storyline jumps around in time. You can see that. There's going to be different looks we play with."
According to Brown, it's not just age or time that's keeping the family apart. Randall is also fairly segregated from his siblings, which wasn't just to protect the integrity of the reveal. The actor tells TVGuide.com that that distance will become an issue that will be explored in the coming episodes.
"Over time, everybody comes together in a really lovely way. You understand why, not just as a plot device, they may not be as close in the beginning," he says. "Hopefully they get a chance to grow closer over the course of the show."
Even though the surprise was a unique twist for the premiere, Moore promises that the emotional stakes will continue to be high for this family and will keep fans tuning in week after week.
"You're meeting all these characters at a certain juncture of their life where things are about to change dramatically. Somebody is about to embark on a life-changing workout regime. Someone else has quit their job. Someone is looking for their father. We're about to have triplets," she says. "The stakes are going to stay in that place, but with Dan's writing ... is so nuanced. ... It's celebrating the highest highs and maybe some of the lower lows for people. There's something in there for everyone."
The key to This Is Us is making people connect with the characters, and its big twists and reveals operate as surprises rather than as a necessity to make the show intriguing. The cast is confident that they have built a show that gives everyone someone to root for.
"It's giving people an opportunity to fall in love with these characters. They're experiencing that life and moving forward. Life is endless and also ends," Ventimiglia articulates. "The possibility of things that these characters are going to be experiencing is going to be very relatable, but at the same time it's things that are just very different as well."
What did you think of the This Is Us premiere?
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.