On Tuesday nights my family and I pile onto the couch to watch This Is Us, and millions of others do too.

(Thank you to Brittnee, who, the day after the pilot aired, said “You HAVE to watch this show!” That’s WOM, at its best. Added bonus: It’s set in THE BURGH!)

Not since the heyday of American Idol have the Munroes gathered together with this level of dedication and regularity to watch scheduled, non-Netflix, “community event” television. Mandy Moore, the “mom” on This Is Us, sees that too and talked about the phenomenon in the New York Times. “This Is Us was gaining real steam after a couple of unusual things happened: There were raves from people who usually watch ‘the cool show on Amazon,’ not over-the-air TV.”

When NBC had Must See TV seriously EVERYONE watched the Thursday night line up, and the next day at work, or wherever we were, we talked about it (I see you, Gen X-ers).

Image: NBC

Image: NBC

This Is Us is starting to feel like that, but now we have the joy of social media. Yes, a lot of talk online and off is about Jack (sidenote: usually pronounced with a sigh, “Jaaaack” – can you blame us?):

THIS IS US — “Kyle” Episode 103 — Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack — (Photo by: Vivian Zink/NBC)

But the conversation is also around how much people love the show, how much it makes them cry or how they identify with the characters. This comment on the This Is Us Facebook page pretty much sums it up.

“This show speaks to ‘us’ as a family, as humans, on sooooo many levels. We are so amazed by what the cast and crew do each and every week. WOW! Thank you – with huge gratitude!!! Love, Love, LOVE.”

Dan Fogelman, creator of This Is Us, shares an interesting theory about why This Is Us is connecting with the audience saying, “They’re looking to hold hands with a TV show, and something about the show has done that.”

Mandy Moore also pointed out, “The uncertainty is in the air, and nobody knows what to expect in the next couple months, coming weeks and year ahead.” But the show gives us a cathartic moment to experience together.

Together. The fact is, This Is Us tackles everyday challenges, struggles, pain, joy, love, caring and connection, and is the number one breakout hit on network TV. We, the audience, are showing up every Tuesday at the same time to watch it. Why?

What can we pull from that?

  • More than ever, community matters. Neighboring, kindness and connection matter. This Is Us covers topics of common ground and is a reminder we all have things in our lives we’re working on or dealing with and compassion is what we need.

  • The show clearly is built on a philosophy of authenticity and relatability – from the heart. It feels, from a viewer standpoint, like the writers and cast are there fully. This magic is only possible when culturally relevant, often moving themes (especially when the theme or message goes beyond a “category”), like celebrating what makes us each unique or embracing family, whatever form it takes are addressed and lifted up in thoroughly real, authentic – and even uncomfortable – ways.
  • We are the product of our experiences and the people around us. Elizabeth Berger, co-executive producer and writer of This Is Us, said in an interview, “We really liked the idea that life throws you curve balls, and what you do with those curve balls ultimately determines the life that you live.” Isn’t that what we all want for ourselves and our kids, and what we all are most proud of: How we got through – stronger and wiser, and the people who were – and are – there for us through the good and the bad?

  • Ultimately, and I’ve always believed this to be true, life-affirming moments, experiences and unexpected reminders make the world go around and we need them as much as possible, most especially today. Those instances of affirmation reinforce to us why we are here and that we have love, community, support and each other.

This, for me, is what This Is Us is all about: