Do you guys watch this show? If not, you should start, right. now. I was late to the game. I didn’t watch the first season even though people were raving about it. But then I saw that the NBC app had the whole first season and one day while on the treadmill I decided to try it. I wasn’t hooked immediately, but I soon became a This is Us fan-girl.
By the way – I plan to talk about some things from the last couple of episodes, so if you watch but haven’t caught up on the DVR you might want to skip this post.
When I heard about the show, I knew there was a heavy woman on there played by Chrissy Metz. I had only half paid attention, so I thought that she was heavy the way Melissa McCarthy was heavy when she started on Mike & Molly. I was surprised when I started watching to see that she was very morbidly obese and was interested to see how the show handled that. Shockingly accurately and sensitively it turns out.
The show jumps in time, and I was “happy” that a show finally showed someone who evolved from a fat child to a fat adult. Usually it’s the fat girl who gets thin as an adult and shoves it in the face of those she knew in the past OR the exact opposite – the always thin and hot girl who “let herself go” and is struggling.
No, this shows the humiliation of being fat as a child and the cruelty of other children – an experience that I know well. Showing a young girl who has a thin and beautiful mother who loves her but deep down can’t identify with her chunky kid.
As an adult, the character Kate, explores the realms of the horrific struggle to lose weight and the emotional baggage that goes along with it.
We’ve seen Kate give her all to weight loss – reluctantly refusing desserts and killing herself on the elliptical only to drop less than a pound while her boyfriend Toby eats a salad for 1 meal and drops 6 pounds.
We’ve seen her insulted by someone - telling her she has no singing talent – and her being almost thrilled that she was rejected not for being fat, but for sucking.
We’ve seen Kate in an emotional crisis – sitting in her car – stuffing donuts in her face. Disgusted and ashamed with herself but continuing to do it.
In the last episode, what should be a thrilling experience – buying a wedding dress – was shown to be a worrisome and stressful event – because when you’re fat, finding a beautiful dress that fits would be amazing. Finding one that fits and is beautiful would be nothing short of a miracle.
It sure does to me.
Recently Kate suffered a miscarriage. While there is no way to know what caused it, especially since is was early on, the show had her bravely acknowledge that her weight could have – probably did play a role.
Her brother, Kevin, who was in rehab, did not want to hurt her, but had to confront her that her morbid obesity was as related to to her father being an alcoholic as his own pill addiction. Of course she knew this, but having it put out there cut her to the bone.
After the miscarriage, Kate’s boyfriend, Toby, accidentally dropped the trash bag while taking it out of the house. From the bottom spilled an empty snack cake box and an empty KFC fried chicken box. He looked at it shocked. Shocked that Kate was eating this food sure, but clearly more shocked that she was hiding it.
I was running on the treadmill while watching this, and as the camera paused on his stunned face, as he tried to process, I felt this intense tightening of my chest and a deep sense of guilt and shame. I seriously lost a few steps and almost found myself slammed into the concrete wall behind me. Because I knew this. I had done this. Not exactly the same thing but close enough. Wayyyy close enough.
And I thought about something that had happened just a few months ago. My co-worker came in to talk to me and sat in a chair happily munching down a small bag of M & M’s. When she finished, she did what anyone would do – she tossed the empty bag in the trash.
After she left, I did what a NON NORMAL human would do. Almost without thinking I took out some papers moving the empty candy wrapper to the bottom of the basket so that no one would see that wrapper and think that I ate them.
Batshit crazy, right? Like the custodial guys would notice or if they noticed they would give a crap that I had eaten some M&M’s. But that sense of shame runs scarily deep. Eating in secret, hiding the evidence - it's part of a sickness.
I love that we have a show on now that is addressing obesity with sensitivity and a lack of judgement. We don’t see that very much – by and large we don’t mock and make fun of gays or minorities or the disabled on mainstream television any more – but fatties remain fair game. Or they are sidekicks, not real people.
And I have to hand it to Chrissy Metz. There is no doubt that some of this stuff hits pretty close to home for her personally and to play it out on TV for America has to be incredibly challenging at times. I don’t know that I would have the balls to do it.
It almost feels groundbreaking to me. Kudos to the writers and everyone involved with the show.
If that plot isn’t enough to entice you, the brilliant acting by Sterling K. Brown should. There are no words to describe how breathtakingly good he is on this show. And, as an added bonus, he is a runner – on the show and in real life.
So I command you – begin binge watching immediately if you haven’t started and for those of you who are already doing so, hold on tight and keep the tissues handy.