Stream It Or Skip It

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘This Is Us’ On Netflix, The Emmy-Winning NBC Series Comes To The Biggest Streamer For The First Time

Where to Stream:

This Is Us

Powered by Reelgood

Since This Is Us ended its six-season run in 2022, it’s been streaming on Hulu. It’s still there, but this week it is also available for streaming on Netflix. Given the fact that the series was a hit during its initial NBC run, with an online discourse that rivaled any prestige streaming series, will the show still get a new surge of popularity thanks to a Suits-like Netflix bump?


Opening Shot: “This is a fact: According to Wikipedia, the average human being shares his or her birthday with over 18 million other human beings. There is no evidence that sharing the same birthday creates any type of behavioral link between those people. If there is… Wikipedia hasn’t discovered it for us yet.”

The Gist: In a bedroom, we see some packed boxes, including one that says “Family Photos, ’75-’79” on it. Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) sits down naked on his bed, the only thing covering him is a tiny Terrible Towel, which he likely got at a Steelers game. It’s his 36th birthday, and he and his wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) usually celebrate with her doing a sexy dance in some lingerie before some sexy time together. But she’s immensely pregnant with triplets; she could only get the lingerie over her shoulders. Jack, still finding her sexy as all get out, wants the dance, anyway. She obliges, they start to have their sexy times, then Rebecca’s water breaks, six weeks before her due date.

Also celebrating her 36th birthday is Kate (Chrissy Metz), who stares at the sticky notes she’s written to herself and put on a lot of the food in her fridge, including her birthday cake. She strips down to weigh herself, slips and falls backwards off her scale. Kevin (Justin Hartley), the star of the sitcom The Manny, is celebrating his 36th birthday with two girls ready for some fun, but all he wants to talk about is the Challenger explosion. Then we see Randall (Sterling K. Brown) in his spacious office, seeing an e-mail from an investigator that has a picture of his birth father, right before coworkers come in and sing “Happy Birthday” for his 36th.

This is when we find out that Kevin and Kate are twins, as she calls him in the middle of his Challenger lament to help her. She wants him to tell her to “lose the damn weight” as encouragement, and he seems to demure on that point. Kevin has his own angst to deal with, as we see on the set of his show, where he can’t stand the dumb lines he has to say or the fact that he has to do most of the episodes with his shirt off. He does a dramatic scene with Alan Thicke, who’s playing his father, and when the showrunner tells him to do a lighter version of it, Kevin loses it in front of the studio audience, quits and storms off the set.

Meanwhile, Jack and Rebecca are in the hospital, and they find out that their obstetrician won’t be there, but Dr. Nathan Katsowski (Gerald McRaney) reassures them that he’s “the best of the best”. All Jack wants to hear is positive vibes, but when there’s a problem after the first boy comes out, Dr. K has to operate. It turns out that the second baby, a girl, is healthy, but the third, a boy, was stillborn. Dr. K sits with Jack and tells him he lost his first child, too, which is why he’s an OB. He hopes Jack can in the future talk about how he “took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade.”

Randall drives to Philadelphia to confront his birth father William (Ron Cephas Jones), to tell him that despite the fact that William left him at a fire station as a baby, he’s doing just fine. He ends up inviting William to visit his wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and daughters Tess (Eris Baker) and Annie (Faithe Herman).

In an OA meeting, Kate meets the funny and self-deprecating Toby (Chris Sullivan) and the two of them hit it off. After their dinner date, where she persuades him to skip dessert, she invites him in, but their nightcap is interrupted by a drunk Kevin lamenting the fact that he just threw a stable acting job away.

This Is Us S1
Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? This Is Us spawned a ton of imitators that picked up on its fractured timeline format, most notably A Million Little Things.

Our Take: We watched the pilot episode of This Is Us for the first time in over 7 years; we don’t think we saw it again after it aired the first time in the fall of 2016. Like everyone who saw the pilot, we were shocked by the revelation at the end that (SEVEN YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT!) Jack and Rebecca Pearson were the parents of twins Kate and Kevin, and that they adopted Randall after he was brought to the hospital by the fireman that found him at the station.

Creator Dan Fogelman and his writers did a great job of not only obscuring this fact during the episode (and the promotion leading up to its debut), but doing so in a manner that didn’t distract from the episode’s emotional impact. Fogelman and crew did that throughout the show’s six season run, with twists and redirections that sometimes were maddening, but other times were a direct hit to viewer’s emotional solar plexuses.

Watching the episode with the history of the series in our heads was an interesting experience. There were things mentioned during the episode that we knew would come back later on, especially when Dr. K mentioned that one day he hopes Jack would be an old man and finding some solace in the loss of the third triplet (SEVEN YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT: that didn’t happen). We watched the beginnings of Kate and Toby knowing what was in store for them as a couple. And we saw just how Randall’s mixed reaction to meeting William was just the tip of the psychological iceberg that Randall spent the entire series trying to discover.

But the emotional impact of the story and the performances was still there. Brown managed to convey Randall’s complexities from the first moments we saw him, and from the first seconds we saw him interacting with Beth, we got that same desire to see an entire series built around Randall and his family.

There were also signs with Kevin and Kate’s stories that there would be the annoyances we felt with both during the show’s run. It was never the performances of Hartley and Metz, which were always excellent; it was the fact that their characters were a bit too inwardly-focused, especially at the show’s start. Both characters made huge advances as the series went on, but it was fascinating to see those signs in this first episode.

As pilots go, though, This Is Us‘s premiere episode is about as tightly-written and true to the rest of the series as any pilot we’ve ever seen. And even if you know all the spoilers we mentioned, whether you watched the series or not, it’s definitely worth another look.

Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia are old-school Steelers fans in the new episode of NBC’s ‘This Is Us.’ Photo: Ron Batzdorff, NBC

Sex and Skin: We see Jack’s bare tush as he sits down on the bed with his Terrible Towel. Also, when Kate strips down to weigh herself, we see her from the back, only wearing her panties.

Parting Shot: Jack and Rebecca hold hands while they look at baby Kevin, Kate and Randall, all wearing handmade onesies with the words “The Big Three” on them.

Sleeper Star: McRaney won an Emmy for playing Dr. K, and even though he only appeared occasionally during the run of the series, his impact in that first episode was immense.

Most Pilot-y Line: It was kind of sad seeing Alan Thicke in this pilot episode, knowing that he died suddenly only a few months after the pilot aired.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Even though we knew all the surprises in the This Is Us premiere, the episode still had a lot of emotional resonance with us, which is the sign of some pretty top-notch writing and acting.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.