The image above is official key art from NBC’s latest family drama The Village, which follows This Is Us and is designed specifically for what NBC believes to be the This Is Us audience: Emotionally fragile, easily manipulated viewers who just want to have their hearts warmed and their tear-ducts pumped (bless their hearts). This Is Us is a pretty decent (but not great) family drama that just happens to be very good at plucking one’s emotional heartstrings. The Village has no interest in being a decent series; its only interest is in using emotional manipulation to gaslight its viewers into believing that The Village is trying to say something profound about the human condition. It is not.
The key art above — glossy, airbrushed, superficial — is the perfect representation of the series. It looks like something a sixth grader composed using a green screen at the mall, an old iPad, and the photographer who takes school pictures. It’s all sheen and no substance.
The guy up there in the top left, Ron (Frankie Faison), is the super of a Brooklyn apartment complex, where “everyone is family.” He’s a very happy-go-lucky kind of fella who also owns a neighborhood bar, largely frequented by veterans (do you cry when people salute veterans? This show is for you!). Unfortunately, his wife of 32 years, a social worker named Patricia (Lorraine Toussaint) has cancer.
Over in the bottom right corner, we have Sarah (Michaela McManus), a single-mom tenant who is a nurse and also raising a teenage daughter, Katie (Grace Van Dien) who is pregnant, and therefore, poised to repeat the same mistakes as her Mom. Sarah has mixed feelings about Katie having the baby. Katie also created that heart in the header photo, an act of “vandalism” in protest of a company that makes weapons of war or something.
Their life is complicated by the gentleman in the top right, Nick (Warren Christie), who has just returned from the war, where he was injured. He lives with his combat dog, which is missing one leg, in case you were wondering exactly what kind of show this is. Nick is also suffering from PTSD and has some mixed feelings about the war. He’s also Katie’s father, although Katie doesn’t know that yet because Nick joined the military when he was 18 and Sarah didn’t tell him that she was pregnant with his child. He only found out a few years ago, and after he was injured, decided to move into the building to get to know his (now pregnant) daughter.
Meanwhile, in the bottom left, we have Ben (Jerod Haynes), a police officer who is taking care of the son of Ava (Moran Atias), who is facing deportation. He’s single and clearly smitten with Ava, who is presently in jail and trying to avoid deportation. In the second episode, Ben goes to the prison where Ava is and records her singing her son a lullaby so that he can play it back to her son, in case you were wondering exactly what kind of show this is.
Not pictured is Gabe (Daren Kagasoff), a law student (and therefore, the guy everyone in the building seeks for legal assistance), who now lives with his elderly grandfather, after he took pity on his living situation in the nursing home where Sarah works (the “nursing home” looks an awful lot like a hospital, which I suppose gives the show the freedom to deal with other medical issues that might arise with the tenants).
Basically, it’s a stew of trope-y characters: A nurse, a cop, a social worker, a vet, a lawyer, an immigrant, and a senior citizen all living together in one building, acting as the extended family for each other. There have been two episodes, so far. Both episodes have begun and ended with montages set to the equivalent of a Snow Patrol song. It is exactly that kind of show. In other words, the television equivalent of that header photo. If you own a “Footprints” poster, you’re going to love it.
Header Image Source: NBC