Just hours before Tuesday’s anticipated season finale, the cast and creator of NBC’s “This is Us” gathered in front of a standing room-only audience at SXSW to reflect on the show’s universal success in the midst of a politically divisive era.
“I’m watching everything that is going on in the country and I’m going, ‘What on earth is going on right now?’” series creator Dan Fogelman said. “The fact that people across all spectrums of life are happy with a show that’s this openhearted and optimistic and romantic and inclusive, it gives me hope that maybe other stuff is going to fade away, or at least evolve.”
Mandy Moore, who plays Pearson family matriarch Rebecca, was quick to back up her boss’ sentiment saying, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, in such a divisive time, to be a part of entertainment that is hopeful and inclusive.”
After working in the industry for more than two decades, it’s this sense of perspective Moore tries to inspire in her on-screen kids, too. Whether it’s on set or during career milestones like the cast’s ensemble win during January’s SAG Awards, Moore says she’s tries to remind the younger castmates not to take this kind of success for granted.
“This is a big moment,” she tells her colleagues. “Be present and appreciate it cause we’ve been working for a long time in this business and these moments don’t come around.”
For now, however, those teary-eyed Pearson moments will be around a little longer. After a season of dramatic lows (homeless foster kids, substance abuse), heartwarming highs (engagements, Las Vegas), and one record-breaking Super Bowl episode (more than 27 million viewers), fans can rest easy knowing the clan will return for an emotionally charged third season.
Though Fogelman was tight lipped about what’s next for the beloved family, he did reveal that the writers would continue bringing the storyline into the future, a la that aforementioned Super Bowl episode.
What fans can certainly expect, however, is more screen time between on-screen brothers Justin Hartley and Sterling K. Brown. As much as the audience enjoys watching the heavyweight actors banter on screen, Fogelman says he too enjoys the special dynamic between the fictional brothers.
“I love watching Justin and Sterling on camera together. There is something so real about them as brothers,” he said.
As for Hartley, he says the success of the show — whether it’s between actors or otherwise — begins on the page.
“I find a lot of comfort in the writing,” he said. “When you have that confidence in your writers and producers, you just jump.”