This Is Us
“The Trip” – S1/E9
I’m not sure how many of you watch this awesome show – but I have found it to be very discussion-worthy. The writing is brilliant; the acting is superb. The genuineness of the characters propels me to impatiently wait for the next episode week after week. It is infinitely a better show that’s worth blogging about than some others I can mention…lol.
There are a lot of sites that do a great job of recapping what happened in the episode itself – so instead, let’s discuss it, shall we? Though we’re starting this entire discussion a tad “Tardy to the Party-ish”- but we can still talk about the remaining episodes before the break and then pick it up again when it returns, no?
Chrissy Metz’s portrayal of Kate is amazing. She is a woman of a certain size whose issues about her weight infiltrate every aspect of her life. Her very handsome, semi-celebrity twin brother, Kevin, doesn’t seem to have weight issues at all – which probably makes her want to scratch his eyes out now and then, no? The only solace (at least for me) is that Kevin has a whole lotta other issues in his life… lol. Hmm… does that make me a mean girl? Lol… Well, at the very least it makes me a bit jelly – It’s okay, I’ll own it… But now, inexplicably, I’m craving peanut butter and jelly… lol… dagnabit.
While flying on a plane to visit her family for Thanksgiving, severe turbulence rocked Kate’s plane and knocked her into a whole new reality. Her near-death experience helped cause her to make a drastic decision about her life – She suddenly wants to have gastric bypass surgery. Upon her arrival, Kate blurts out her intentions before she even greets everyone.
I’m guessing that Chrissy Metz, the actress, is also going to either have gastric bypass surgery or will be going on a pretty dramatic diet so she’s visually consistent with the (and I hate to use this term, but here it goes) journey that Kate, the TV show character, will be on post-surgery.
Chrissy recently revealed in a TV Line article that her contract has a clause specifically about losing weight. According to the article, Chrissy says, in part:
“In our contract, it did state that that would be a part of it, to lose the weight in the trajectory of the character as she comes to find herself,” she says. “That was a win-win for me. Because it’s one thing to try to do it on your own. But as human beings, it’s an ego thing: We’re more likely to do something for someone else.”
This week on the show, Kate experienced a shocking lack of support from her brother, Kevin, about her decision. He completely trivialized the catalyst for her decision by condescendingly spouting off that she experienced some “mild turbulence” that made her “spill” her peanuts.
I start to shout at the TV, “Are you freaking kidding me? After ALL the support she’s given you over the years… THIS is what you say to her? What a complete ass…” Mr. Stars stealthily removed all trajectory-prone objects out of my immediate reach.
Obviously this really pissed me off – Kate had been crazily supportive of Kevin in every single aspect of his adult life until he very recently moved out-of-state. While he lived in Hollywood, she was his personal assistant and ego booster in the earlier episodes. He was such a sniveling needy baby/greedy baby that she was on call to solve his every selfish whim and real or imagined issue 24/7. She often voluntarily put her own life on hold so that she could be there for him. Kate lost her own persona and identity and instead completely immersed herself into his.
Okay, okay, okay – I know it wasn’t HIS fault that she lost herself – it was her choice – or, more accurately, her series of choices… But he was so danged selfish that he didn’t bother to notice his sister was too busy helping him to live out his dreams that she didn’t have time to even dream dreams of her own.
The other thing that struck me about Kate this week – was her verbal exchange with Kevin’s then-girlfriend, Olivia Main. Olivia accused Kate of holding Kevin back and that she was jealous of all the changes that Kevin was making in his life. Olivia tells Kate, “You’re afraid that after you lose all the weight and that nothing will have changed… that the person you’ve always been is who you truly are…”
Unless I’m entirely hallucinating (and I certainly could be) but I think this trip is the first time that Olivia and Kate meet. That’s a whole lotta Psychology 101 coming from someone whose nametag you’ve barely just read.
I honestly don’t know if that’s an accurate description of Kate or not. Weight issues are complex and vary dramatically from person to person. I think a lot of people who want to lose a chunk of weight dream of being a healthier version of themselves – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to completely morph into a whole different person.
Ultimately, they may LOOK like a different person on the outside – and they may be handing their issues differently on the inside – but they ARE essentially still the same person, no? And what’s wrong with that? I know I wouldn’t want to be anyone else but me… but I would love to be a healthier version of me.
This exchange really bothered me. Reviewers and commenters are saying how deep and accurate it was – but I kinda disagree. I realize I might be completely over-analyzing it (shock of all shocks) – but to me Olivia is implying that Kate is currently a diminished person somehow – and that she will remain a diminished person with or without the weight.
I dunno… I guess I just think that Kate is an exceptional person exactly as she is – she doesn’t have to lose weight to become exceptional. She also happens to be overweight. Kate’s weight impacts almost every nuance of her life – but losing weight won’t make her a better person – just a healthier person. To me, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a healthier version of Kate being “the person you’ve always been is who you truly are.”
Speaking of hallucinating… let’s talk about Randall.
I love Sterling K. Brown’s multi-layered portrayal of Randall. Through most of the episode, Randall is actually hallucinating as a result of drinking a ‘shroom-laced smoothie. He has a full-blown conversation with his dead Father and through it he tries to make sense of his life.
Randall’s substance abusing biological Father, William, left his irresistibly adorable baby at the door of a fire station because he wanted to secure a good chance for a better life for his son. Randall was unofficially adopted into the Pearson family as the twins’ third wheel. Since then, Randall has been living his life as the chocolate filling of a reverse Oreo cookie – to twin siblings (Kevin and Kate). Kevin and Kate’s biological “triplet” died during childbirth.
All his life, Randall was naturally curious about his birth family and specifically asked his Mom (Rebecca) about them several times. As a kid, when he found out his ability to roll his tongue was genetic, he would walk up to random black people and ask them to roll their tongues to see if they might be his biological parents.
Through a sequence of events, Randall found out that his Mother not only knew his biological Father but that she also denied him access to Randall. This betrayal completely flips his fig and shreds Randall’s heart. He begins to compose a list of ways that his Mother has destroyed his life.
As he’s working through his feelings about it, hallucinating Randall tells his dead Father that throughout his life, he thought, “All I was supposed to feel is grateful to have parents who wanted me when my birth parents didn’t.”
Yikes! Unfortunately, so many adoptees feel their birth parents didn’t “want” them. It’s easy to feel like there was something wrong with you – and that when you were born they took one look at you and said, “No, we don’t want you.”
Many adoptees wonder why they’re not with their birth parents. It’s a pretty natural question , no? However, most adoptive parents don’t really know the answer. I’ve always known about my adoption – it was handled beautifully by my parents. I can’t remember ever asking my parents about my biological parents – although I certainly might have. I think it was because they made it very clear that they “chose” me – and that my biological parents for some reason decided they wouldn’t have been able to provide me the quality of life that I deserved – so they gave me to someone who could.
One of the most selfless things I can imagine is when a woman carries around a baby in her womb for 9 months and then selflessly gives the baby up for adoption because she wants it to have a chance for a better life than what she and the biological father can offer.
That being said, the subject of my adoption rarely came up. I had blue eyes and blonde hair and looked a lot like my dad. Only people who knew our family well were aware of my adoption.
Unfortunately, this is not true of Randall – He grew up as a black kid in a white family. Pretty much everyone knew he was adopted. Randall always felt like he was different. Part of that came from his Mother who treated him differently than she treated the twins – She went above and beyond to try to communicate how special and loved he was – but it proved the point to him that he WAS “different” than his brother and sister.
The adult Randall in his hallucinatory state of being tells his dead Dad, “You never wanted me either – I was a replacement for your dead baby… I’ve spent my life striving for perfection – You know why, Dad? Because I’ve lived in fear that if I let up for one moment that I’d remember that I’m unwanted. And then what would happen to me?”
Randall’s’ Dad handles this situation perfectly when he responds, “The moment I saw you I knew you were my boy. You weren’t a choice, Randall, you are a fact. You were never a replacement.”
The fear of abandonment and the fear of rejection/being unwanted are clear and present dangers for adoptees (Shout out to Tom Clancy). When foundational people have walked out on you for whatever reason – it’s hard not to be nervous that others won’t do the same.
I’m pretty wonky about it, to be honest. When long-time friends drop out of touch at pivotal times or even when online friends disappear from view for some reason – it can feel like a viselike grip on my heart.
If this was a normal year, I would usually try to reach out to reconnect with them again like I’ve been doing for my entire life. But this was no normal year. I just don’t have the motivation or the energy to reach out anymore. So for the most part, I’ve stopped. Instead, I try to focus on people with whom there’s a natural reciprocity of communication – online or otherwise.
For me, the saddest revelation was when I verbalized these feelings and yet there was still silence from the other side of the relationships.
I finally figured out that I actually DID receive an answer. It was just not what I had hoped it would be. Silence can be a vicious bitch.
Speaking of being a bitch…
Surprisingly, I like Mandy Moore who plays the “Mother” on the show. On one hand, she seems like she’s such a loving Mother; but on the other hand, you realize that she’s purposefully kept Randall from his biological Father (William) throughout his entire life. This is all while Randall actively looked for his biological parents every chance he had.
This episode filled in some of the blanks for us because we see Rebecca visiting Randall’s biological father several years after his birth. She went there because her son had expressed so much interest in finding his biological father that she wanted to feel out the situation to decide if the two of them should meet. By then, William had cleaned up his substance abusing life and was excited at the prospect of seeing his son.
William’s mind raced with activities he could do with his son like teaching him about some of his favorite things. He told Rebecca that Randall would be welcome to come by his place at any time.
Rebecca flipped out and fled the scene. Through other events, we have a clearer understanding that Rebecca just wanted to keep her family completely intact and safe – no matter the cost. The problem to me is that Randall paid the price without ever knowing he was doing so.
Even Rebecca’s husband was shocked by her not wanting to even attempt to find Randall’s birth parents. He didn’t know that his wife had ever met William – much less that she recently visited him.
Rebecca shares her fears with her husband about the truth that Randall’s birth parents may legally still have parental rights – because no official paperwork was ever done on his adoption. The truth is that she just couldn’t face the potential of losing her son.
I think it’s challenging to understand this adoption scenario that happened 36 years ego through the lenses of our current culture. Today, even the very definition of “family” has changed quite a bit to include all sorts of relationship and ethnic combinations. “Open” adoptions are totally commonplace. Any stigma associated with either word has long since been obliterated.
“Parental Rights” has at least 2 sides – at least to me. One side is the legal side… While nothing was ever officially signed, when William left Randall at the fire station – didn’t he, in essence, do way more than just sign on the dotted line? He abandoned his kid… Is there such a thing as “takebacksies” in these situations?
I honestly don’t know all of the legal ramifications and it varies from state to state. My point is this – How long should a biological parent have to change their mind in these situations before they forfeit all of their parental rights? Two months? Six months? Two years? Six years? More? Less?
The other side is the moral side… SHOULD an adoptive parent(s) purposefully keep their child(ren) away from their biological parents when they so desperately want to find them? How about when the kid is just mildly curious about them?
If you’re an adoptive parent and you have information about the biological parents of your child – when, if ever, do you share that information with them? Is it when they start asking questions? When they turn 16? 18? 21? Ever?…
Do you first contact the biological parent(s) yourself to find out about their current situation BEFORE you share the info? How far do you go to protect your child/adult child from their curiousities? Sometimes information about the biological parents could be pretty damaging… or heartbreaking…
I was adopted through an organization. I have never really looked for my biological parents in order to contact them. I’ve only made a single phone call to find out if I could find out about my family medical history. I was unsuccessful but I really didn’t try too hard.
However, I’ve personally known others who have looked high and low for their biological parents for years and years. They’ve scoured the internet in search for resources that would help locate them. Some have even hired specialized private investigators. In some of these situations, the adoptive parents knew all along some basic info about the adoption but just never shared it with their child(ren).
Does an adoptive parent have the right to withhold the information from their adult child? What if the biological parent(s) do NOT want to be found? Don’t they have a continued right to their privacy?
Birth certificates are generally sealed and are inaccessible to adopted kids unless a judge decides there’s a very good reason to unseal it (like a medical emergency). However, there is a legal process in place to do so and you have to follow it – often intermediaries are involved for privacy purposes. Again, this varies from state to state and things are changing…
Rebecca found out that William DID want to be found and was very open to meeting with Randall. Randall certainly thought he wanted to find his Dad… even as a child, and certainly as an adult.
Yet Rebecca’s fear that William would take Randal away from her caused her to keep this ginormous secret from her son and her husband.
Initially, Randall was angry and shocked that his Mother knew about his biological Father but kept that information from him for 36 years. Understandably, he felt betrayed. However, when Randall finally confronted his Mother about it on her doorstep – He told her that it must have been very lonely to have kept a secret like that for 36 years.
You physically witness 36 years of fear melt off the face of his Mother. She reached out to hug him but he wasn’t ready to go that far.
Randall said, “Not yet. I’ll see you at Christmas.” He turned and walked away and left all of us in a blubbering puddle of goo.
Well, that’s it for this episode – There was so much more to this episode that we didn’t even begin to cover… but it was going to turn into a novella. We’ll likely get to it another time unless you want to chat about it in the “comments” section.
Thanks so much for reading!
The next Bravo show I’ll be writing about is likely going to be the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I just can’t bring myself to blog about any of the other Bravo shows at this point – they just nauseate me too much. Although, RHOBH will likely do that, too… but I’m going to give it a valiant effort… lol. I do love Ladies of London, though – it started airing this week… but it looks like it’s on the same night as RHOBH so I won’t be able to blog both.
Please note “The Great American Baking Show” with Mary Berry starts tonight (Thursday, December 1st) at 9/8c on ABC. It may be one of our only remaining opportunities to see Mary in action. Her other show, “The Great British Bake Off” has been royally (pun intended) screwed up by moving the show to another channel in the UK which caused Mary and the hosts to quit the show. BOO! I loved that show…
Anyway… Happy Trails!
Video of the Week
In honor of Kirby, the best boxer dog in the entire world, this week’s YouTube video of the week was posted by MAI PM entitled, “Cute Boxer Dogs Playing and Protecting Babies Videos Compilation.”
Kimberly Roots. “ ‘This Is Us’ Chrissy Metz Says Her Contract Includes Mandatory Weight Loss, Calls It ‘A Win-Win For Me.’ ” http://tvline.com. November 17 2016. Accessed on December 1, 2016 at: http://tvline.com/2016/11/17/this-is-us-chrissy-metz-weight-loss-contract/.
You can follow Kimberly Roots on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimroots
The photo at the top of this blog is a screenshot from the “This Is Us” Twitter account that can be accessed at: https://twitter.com/NBCThisisUs