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What Is It about This Is Us?

Evening Program

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1W0027

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Cast members (back row): Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore; (front row) Lonnie Chavis, Mackenzie Hancsicsak, and Parker Bates

From Father Knows Best to All in the Family to Parenthood, TV shows about family life have been a mainstay for decades. Now come the Pearsons, whose story unfolds weekly in flashback sequences on NBC’s This Is Us. In its second season, the show has won Golden Globe awards, high ratings, and social media attention, holding its own in an entertainment landscape overflowing with content choices. How has a show devoid of flashy characters and outlandish storylines become something of a cultural phenomenon?

Stef Woods, a lecturer in American University’s American studies program, takes a close look at the appeal of the complex, relatable Pearson family and how the show portrays real-world issues like adoption, race, and addiction. She explores why we're drawn to shows that make us cry and whether watching the series makes us more empathetic. Woods also provides an overview of the show with a focus on the second season’s finale, and perhaps a flash-forward look into season three.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)