Topical. That’s my word for Episode 22. Not only are they exploring adoption, grief, weight, marriage and parenting, the show is also tackling a couple of hot button topics these days: race and Opioid addiction.
As for race, they are exploring it in the way they explore everything–with subtlety. Other shows might have a white supremacist story line, or a racially motivated killing or something hugely dramatic, but not This is Us. In this show, Grandma is the racist, something that rang true to me, not because my grandparents were racist or my kids’ grandparents, but because I have heard other adoptive parents talk about the racial weirdness that can happen between white grandparents and their trans-racially adopted grandchildren.
So, as far as this week’s recap, let’s start there, with Rebecca’s oh-so-lovely mother, played by eighties movie star Elizabeth Perkins (remember her in “Big” with Tom Hanks?).
1. Rebecca’s mother shows up, unannounced, one wintry night, and begins wreaking emotional havoc before she can remove her coat.
2. Strike #1: She brings presents for the grandchildren, including a too-small mermaid costume for Kate and a basketball for Randall, who doesn’t even like basketball. “That’s the third basketball she’s given him,” Rebecca seethes. Ugh. Grandma’s a racial profiler.
3. Strike 2: “We had a black maid named Dora,” Grandma starts in, stirring the soup (she got the recipe from Dora, which sparked a memory). “I would always correct her English so my girls wouldn’t start talking like street kids.” Umm..WHAT? She’s like Hilly from “The Help,” only in this case she has a black grandson.
4. Strike 3 (and this is where I wanted to come and flick her hard on the nose): “Who would have thought Randall would be the one to get into private school?” The implication, of course, being that it was ironic her black adopted grandchild was significantly smarter than her precious twins. BLURGH.
5. But that’s when Rebecca has a shining moment of clarity and boundaries and defends her boy. Not only does she defend him, she kicks her mother out of the house, just as soon as the snow clears. “Randall tries so hard to get you to like him,” she tells her mother, who stares back at her uncomprehendingly. (And did you see sweet Randall’s little face, full of hope when his grandma walked in the door, fall a few moments later? Superb acting on the part of Lonnie Chavis, who plays young Randall.)
6. Because these writers are too good to paint anyone as either all bad or all good (you know, human nature), they have given Grandma a little bit of redemption. After Rebecca strongly advocates for Randall, her mother tosses and turns and contemplates…and then she tries to get to know the grandson she has all but ignored. Granny has a long way to go, but as starts go, I didn’t hate it. What do you think?
7. Deja’s hair! She hasn’t washed it in two weeks and it’s a gnarly mess. I actually love how the show is making Deja unlovable. It’s realistic that a 12-year-old with a neglectful, abusive background would present a tough, pugnacious front to a hard, hard world. If they made her charming and adorable right off the bat, it would be doing a disservice to tens of thousands of foster kids out there who need their story told with truth. People need to know the good, the bad and the ugly.
8. I liked Beth even more this week (didn’t think it was possible) as she gently talked to Deja about the altercation at the bowling alley and then did her hair. It was a bit awkward but Beth handled it. I mean, she #handled it! Of course, Deja isn’t done acting out, not by a long shot, so she defiantly cuts her pretty new braids off, daring Randall and Beth to be mad, to reject her. Oh honey, your broken heart is showing and it’s so sad.
9. Kevin, nooooooo! Why, oh why are you being so ridiculous about your knee? RICE it, man! Instead of taking care to ensure proper healing, Kevin rushes his recovery which will likely end in disaster. Oh, and popping pain pills? A horrendous idea!!! The only silver lining I can find here is that Justin Hartley will be able to flex his acting chops like crazy cakes!
10. Kate is obsessively working out and only eating things that are extremely beneficial to one’s health. We don’t find out until the very last moments of the show that she is COTTON-PICKIN’ PREGNANT! Like, six weeks along. Why hasn’t she told Toby yet?? That can’t bode well…can it?
Well, what’d you guys think?
Favorite scene? Favorite line?
What do think will happen with Deja? Kevin? Kate and Toby??
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