It happened to Empire after the second season. To Scandal after the third. It happened to The Walking Dead in the second season and again in the seventh season. Grey’s Anatomy was subjected to it in the third season. They came for Game of Thrones in its fourth season. Glee made it only as far as is first winter break.
It’s the price of success. If a show surpasses 10 million viewers, the Internet will drag it. It’s only a matter of time. It’s the nature of the beast. If a show attracts a large following, it’s going to attract recaps and analysis and Twitter complaints, and Facebook screeds until every single flaw is exposed like eyeballs in the sun after the Internet has ripped off the eyelids.
For NBC’s This Is Us, it made it to the second season. That’s not bad, considering the first season was 18 episodes long, 18 episodes in which we all gave the show the benefit of the doubt. Eighteen episodes in which we allowed ourselves to look past its weaknesses and ugly cry at the end of every episode, or sometimes in the middle of each episode. Or sometimes, in the first five minutes. Maybe a few times during a promo. What? Shut up. Trump won the election. We were weak, and this is the show we needed in post-Trump America! Comfort television. A happy, loving family! In 2017, eighteen episodes is practically a lifetime for a show to be able to get away with flagrant, egregious emotional manipulation! This Is Us should be proud!
But now it’s over. We’ve had four months to process last season, and to mount our defenses, and to ready our knives. Expectations for the second season premiere were high. Too high! We were never going to be satisfied. Put away that soft guitar strumming. Don’t even think about it. Are we really going to have to relive Kevin and Kate’s codependence for another season? We see right through Kate’s cry face! How are you somehow going to make Toby even more unrealistically perfect? Why are we being subjected of William’s poetry in voice over? Are we going to have to endure this every episode? William’s dead. Let it go! You can’t bring him back every week for a heart to heart. Are we going to have to watch Kevin fuck up another relationship with the maid from the first season of American Horror Story? How long is this adoption plotline going to run? WHEN WILL MIGUEL FINALLY GET HIS DUE?
No sir, This Is Us. We’re not falling for it again this year. We’re on to you, show. We’ve been steeling ourselves for this all summer long. Your post Tom Hanks movie speech may bend us, but we will not break! Nope, not even when she tells him to get in the damn car. “You are my husband, and I am your wife, and if you have a problem, we will fix it together.” Nope! We will hold! The dam will not burst! We were prepared this time. We are stronger than you, This Is Us. You will not win …
Shit. He died in a fire? In his own house? Why is Rebecca wearing that Steelers jersey? Why wasn’t anyone there to save him? Did he go back in for the dog that Kate is crying on? Oh God, This Is Us? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME? I made it 41 minutes, and then you pull this out? GODDAMNIT. Dirty pool! NO NO NO NO NO NO.
You win again, This Is Us. You and your goddamn U2 cover song win again. But rest assured, show, that after three or four days, when we’re finally able to pull ourselves back together again, we will be ready for you next Tuesday. We won’t let it happen again.