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Critic's Notebook: On 'This Is Us,' a Rare and Timely Exploration of Men’s Mental Health

October 2, 2018

 

NBC's drama is one of the few shows to sensitively examine men’s mental health issues, presenting a welcome vision of masculine fragility at a time teeming with real-life male villains.

 

One of This Is Us' most memorable moments plays out in the first season, when Randall (Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown) experiences a debilitating panic attack. Alone in his office after a stressful day at work, his hands begin to shake. His vision blurs. You can practically see the gears churning uncontrollably behind his eyes, sense his cortisol levels rising like floodwaters. He’s supposed to be at his brother’s Broadway debut, but his mind has trapped him. He wills himself to call Kevin (Justin Hartley) and tell him he’s not going to make it after all. Kevin knows something isn’t right; minutes later, he abandons the stage and runs through Manhattan (against a thrumming guitar soundtrack) to rescue Randall, whom he finds slumped on the floor. Randall falls into his brother’s embrace, sobbing into his chest.

 

Yeah, good luck not ugly-crying at that