This is [ACTUALLY] Us!

By: Geraldine Damey

I’m sure many of you have heard, and most likely succumbed to the hype about “This is Us.” I did. And boyyy was I like . . .

So a little about me: I’m pretty simple and basic, honestly. I eat the same foods, I frequent the same spots, and I watch the same shows. That is, unless I’m challenged by someone around me. Since I had time [yesss for Spring Break], I decided to challenge myself and pick something to watch on my own. I decided to try “This is Us.” And man this show is good. Really really good. I’m particularly impressed with the director’s depiction of Kate and Randall -- their roles really hit a nerve for me.

First, Kate. As you may know, Kate is the “fat” twin/triplet. To no surprise, she struggles with her weight daily just like about 2/3 of Americans in the U.S. How many times have we started a diet and crashed? Went hard for a week and then gave up? It doesn’t help when the folks around you don’t eat healthy either.

Like most shows or movies that portray a “fat girl,” it’s inevitable that this character will have self-esteem issues. And we saw that here. But, there was something else. We also saw her fall in love while she was fat. Like I said, I’m pretty basic so I haven’t seen too many love stories starring a fat girl. And if so, she generally loses the weight, becomes slim and “desirable,” then falls in love. This show is different. The subliminal messages represented in Kate’s role just shook me:

         It is ok to be happy in love and fat. Society has always presented this perception that being slim is desirable. You want to catch a man? Better get that stomach flat and lose the arm jiggle. Umm, how realistic right [I hope you read my sarcasm]? Yes, we have progressed and currently embrace the thick girl movement. We even show love to the plus-size girls. But to me, Kate was a more realistic fat girl – big ole’ belly and back rolls that you can’t hide. Yet she still found a man that loves her and wants to marry her. Ladies, we don’t have to lose the weight to catch a man. When the right one comes along, he will take us as we are.

BUUUT, we still need to be healthy. Seems kind of contradictory, huh? Be happy with your fat, but you still need to lose weight, what? So yes, even though Toby (Kate’s boo) loved her at her current size, she was still determined to lose weight to be healthy. I think this message hit me when Toby had his heart attack [did yall catch that??]. Of course we should embrace our different shapes and sizes, but the reality is, the more overweight you are, the more health risks you face. Plain and simple.

I think any girl that has struggled with her weight, myself included, can relate to Kate’s role. And you don’t have to be obese to understand. Embracing and learning to love the extra pounds to put your self-esteem at ease while understanding the reality of the health risks you put on your body can be taxing.

I saved the best for last, now let’s talk about Randall.

The three siblings were raised by the same loving parents – and yet Randall still came out “on top.” Seems like he was living the American Dream: financially lucrative career, perfect wife, beautiful kids, nice house. Hmmmm, don’t get too excited. Even though he had this seemingly perfect life, I loved that this show displayed the fact that he still bears the plight of a black man. That can never be erased.  No matter how smart he was, no matter how much revenue he brought in his firm, he still had to prove himself. It’s also interesting that his work competitor wasn’t another white man as one may expect, but another minority – an Indian man. Goes to show that no matter how hard you work, society can still perceive the black man to be at the bottom of the totem pole. Did y’all catch that one?

Here is an analogy to bring it back to reality: former president Barack Obama attended two ivy league schools, became the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, and received other accolades, yet his race caused some to question his ability to lead this country. Meanwhile, our current President….. [I’ll just let you fill in the blanks]. Do you see what I’m saying?=

Sad reality but the truth: in this current day and age, the black man will have to work twice as hard [and maybe not against his white counter-parts] to be perceived to be as credible as his colleagues. Not fair, but what can we do? No seriously, answer that question to yourself.

Thankfully, this series has been approved for a third season. I’m hoping that as the series progresses, Randall’s role will develop into one where his success story [and personal hardships] is portrayed in a way that we will see him directly involved (or having an impact) in social change, especially regarding current race relations. So far, I’m loving the realness of the image that Randall portrays, and I’m excited for the episodes to come.

I hope they don’ let US down!


Black Immigration Primer: Part II