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“A monumental achievement in television writing” were the words I used to describe the early seasons of This is Us, a complex and intricate family drama that pulled at the heartstrings relentlessly. But around season three, when the magic started to fade and the heartstrings got a little too repetitively tugged, a similarly structured drama called A Million Little Things premiered in the fall of 2018 and exceeded every expectation.
With This is Us now on its fifth season and A Million Little Things on its third, we have a lot of material to entertain the hypothetical: if these two shows got in the ring together, who would come out victorious? Despite the endless recognition for the former’s success, I dare say I’d put my money on A Million Little Things once all is said and done.
After becoming fully engrossed in the storylines of each set of characters, the trait that stands out to me most is how well the female characters on AMLT are written — so much so that if all the male characters mysteriously departed for a multiple-episode arc, the fulfilling stories and connections actualized by female characters would be enough to tide an audience over time after time. I would argue that the same could not be said for This is Us. As strong and spunky as the women on that show can be, the absence of male characters would be too palpable to carry on without them. Credit is due to both shows for creating smart, dynamic, capable women; but point in favor of AMLT for giving them the hefty storylines that push the narrative forward, and, I guess it can be said, more of them.
Another point can be awarded to AMLT for showing multiple characters of color in diverse facets of adulthood that don’t solely comment on their race. While aspects of black upbringing are addressed with one of the on-screen couples, so too are career-driven attitudes, mental health, adoption, friendship, and a slew of other elements that make life interesting.
This is Us has given a lot of attention to one of their main characters, Randall, and his relationship to his blackness this season in the wake of the rising Black Lives Matter movement, heavily incorporating the events of 2020 into their newest and ongoing season. It is interesting to see how Randall’s storylines of anxiety and being the only black member of his family come into play. Their comments and insight on black experience are eloquent and easy to digest, and it seems as though they are putting in the work to stake their claim on the media aspect of this movement.
While I love and enjoy both programs enough to tune in every week, I find myself more excited for A Million Little Things. The characters’ interactions seem so much more genuine, and admittedly less whiney, than the characters on This is Us. If this show slipped under your radar, I implore you to check it out. See who you’d bet on in this tight match.
Tv review originally posted on December 30, 2020
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