From left: Ron Batzdorff/NBC (2)
#1 This Is Us (NBC) This feels like a miracle: a family drama that values emotion, warmth and humor over contrived melodrama, able to make the heart soar and break, usually at the same time. This is the sort of show critics often have to plead with viewers to watch, since it lacks a criminal, legal or medical procedural hook. A rare ray of light in an industry all too eager to go dark, This Is Us is the year’s most refreshingly unexpected and welcome instant success.
It strikes a powerful chord with an offbeat structure that tells the affecting story of the Pearsons over two timelines: Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) raise their three kids (one adopted at birth), while the adult versions of their offspring, now in their thirties, still wrestle with skeletons and secrets of the past. Manipulative? Sure. Effective? Absolutely. Each episode should come with its own box of tissues.