The first trailer for This Is Us gives you plenty of reasons to watch NBC's new family drama this fall, beginning with Milo Ventimiglia's bare butt and followed by the promise of heartfelt emotional scenes that will have you crying into a bucket of Rocky Road every week.
That's just in a two-minute clip, so imagine what's going to happen with a full hour of the show every week. The feelings fest — ostensibly about people who share the same birthday but find themselves connected in other ways — combines heart and humor as its main characters try to navigate life and its many obstacles. The show's first hour borders on saccharine at points, but its connective tissue proves how smart and creative the team behind the drama can be and leaves you intrigued for more.
Those emotions are hand delivered by a star-studded cast that's ready to break the mold of their previously iconic roles. For Mandy Moore, this could be her chance at finding a home on primetime TV after critically acclaimed runs on Scrubsand Entourageand an ill-fated turn on Fox's short-lived but beloved Red Band Society two years ago.
She and Ventimiglia play expectant parents, and before the babies even arrive they prove to be the type of couple you want to root for — Moore's Rebecca providing the necessary grounding for Jack's (Ventimiglia) pie-in-the-sky optimism. For Moore, it's the opportunity to showcase the talent that she's been sharpening in low-key indie films for years, while Ventimiglia will break your heart so thoroughly in the first episode that it will make you think This Is Us could be the thing to help him finally shed the skins of his Gilmore Girls and Heroes alter-egos Jess Mariano and Peter Petrelli.
While Moore and Ventimiglia have the most recognizable names, it is most likely Sterling K. Brown who you'll be talking about to your friends in the office the day after each episode. After a stunning performance in People v. OJ Simspon: American Crime Story earlier this year, Brown expertly executes the gamut of emotions when meeting your biological parent for the first time after almost 40 years of never knowing them. How do you forgive a man who left you at a fire station on the day you were born? Brown not only makes you believe that such a thing is possible, but will have you convinced you need it to happen — for yours and his sake — by the end of the premiere.
The good in feel-good will be delivered by Justin Hartley and Chrissy Metz, though. Both of their characters are on the verge of major life breakthroughs when we encounter them, but their unique and close-knit relationship provides a lot of the humor you'll need to help prevent yourself from drowning in tissues. Metz in particular is a breakout performer who breaks the weight-loss cliche with self-deprecation and sharp wit. Our hope is that Metz has more to grapple with than avoiding fatty foods and making herself go to the gym, because if given the right material Metz could turn her character Kate into an iconic alter-ego of her own.
Are good acting performances in a heartfelt drama enough to make it onto your undoubtedly crowded TV schedule this year? I want to argue yes. This Is Us's simplicity is what makes it a standout new show this fall, because it doesn't rely on gimmicks or villains of the week to draw you in. At the end of the day, people want to be comforted by characters who feel like themselves and prove that every day folks don't need super powers or to be President of the United States to overcome their problems.
You'll see a lot of comparisons of This Is Us to Parenthood, and they are worthy ones. There's not a lot of flash, but there is a ton of heart, and if NBC can deliver the same amount of emotion in every episode that it does in the pilot then This Is Us will be sure to hit your sweet spot.
This Is Us premieres Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 10/9c on NBC.