Fortunately, the show returns next week with storylines inspired by what has dominated everyone’s lives over the past few months. But the decision to dive into heavy waters like the coronavirus pandemic and racial injustice was not taken lightly, creator Dan Vogelman told reporters on Friday.
“Our choice has always been to be apolitical. We’re not talking, you know, about a Democrat or a Republican, or you know who’s on the show,” he said, suggesting he meant President Donald Trump. “It’s more like American life, and when I sat and weighed the decision on what we were going to do and just thought about where our show lived – with this kind of American family that has so many different pockets and covers time ̵
The episodes remain told through the lens of the characters that viewers know and love, Vogelman assured, and the focus is always “to talk about human experience, not political experience.”
The scripts for the first two episodes left actress Susan Kelechi Watson proud of how the show handled the themes. In the series, Watson plays Beth Pearson, Randall’s wife, one of Pearson’s siblings at the center of NBC’s drama.
“Actually, one of the things I said when we first got these episodes was, ‘It’s like eavesdropping on people’s lives,'” she said. ”
The conversations between Beth and Randall and their children will be candid and reflect on their individual experiences. In the series, Randall, a black man raised in a white family, “has a really interesting kind of moment of approaching Jesus during these first two episodes, which we’ll see on Tuesday that I think is charming,” actor teased Sterling K. Brown.
“They are the type of parents I think invite their children [the conversation]. It’s not something they would necessarily protect them from, but try to guide them, so I think that’s the way we approach it, “Watson added.
The episodes, which aired on Tuesday, were produced under some time crisis after the show, like others, was delayed in early production due to the coronavirus pandemic. For Vogelman and the producers, however, it was important that the first two episodes air before the November election.
“Not because they are political, but because I think they are difficult and then encouraging,” Vogelman said. “And it felt important for us to just put it on TV now, with no other agenda besides. But it also created intense speed.”
“This is us” is currently being produced in Los Angeles, where restrictions remain in place due to the pandemic. Although the cast now follows protocols and wears personal protective equipment to stay safe, little else has changed, Vogelman said.
“It’s a bold new world on set, but we found our normalcy very quickly and we haven’t lost our rhythm on set, believe it or not,” he said.
Vogelman attributes the work they have done over the past five years to their effectiveness as a production, as well as to the cast.
“We keep saying on set, I wouldn’t envy a freshman or a pilot who somehow finds his rhythm, his connections and whatnot,” he said.
Focused on the fifth season of “This Is Us” remains the place where heart stories collide with tearful drama. Vogelman said they are moving forward this season, taking into account all the basics they have covered so far, as they affect current events.
“We weren’t afraid to touch things like addiction or body image or race, or Alzheimer’s disease, or any of the countless things we’ve done,” he said. “So I think we attacked it in an elegant way, which is a big part of our show, but it really speaks to what our show is trying to do and trying to be.”