Why NBC's new 'This Is Us' is made for veterans

Phil Briggs
September 27, 2018 - 10:03 am

NBC

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I'll admit it - I'm a fan of NBC's hit series This Is Us.

Yup, I'm a middle-aged, NFL apparel wearing Dad with a beer fridge in the garage and some wild stories from my Navy days, and yet I really like a show that seems to be a favorite with the "mom" crowd.

The story of two parents and three siblings on a journey that involves adoption, alcoholism, life, love, death, race, weight and marriage may not seem like a natural fit for this Sportscenter superfan, but when Tuesday night's season premiere revealed a Vietnam veteran storyline I knew this show could appeal to an entirely new audience. 

The award-winning show has always told this story through a series of flashbacks, taking you to another place in time to understand the present. According to Entertainment Weekly, this season will dive into Vietnam to better understand the siblings' superhero-like, now-deceased father Jack  (Milo Ventimiglia).

Show creator Dan Fogelman told Entertainment Weekly, "Early in the season we go to a solo Vietnam episode. One of our special episodes that really tracks Jack’s story to Vietnam and tracks his history in his family as it relates to war and being a part of the military. Then, once that is done, Vietnam becomes one of our storylines that in progressive episodes continues to evolve for a bit until some answers are gotten and the story is told. It certainly is a world that you can live in for an entire television series without ever leaving, but we want it to fit inside of our story, see how it relates to our family, to Jack, to the kids who are trying to figure out their father".

In previous seasons, TIU has done a great job with stories about interracial adoption, alcoholism and the death of one of the best Dad characters in television.  So it's no surprise to hear how the show producers have enlisted the help of Vietnam veteran and author Tim O'Brien (The Things They Carried).  Fogleman said, "We’re taking it very seriously. We’re going to Vietnam to shoot there. Tim came on to consult for us and to help us, and I think in his own has fallen in love with the show and is taking it very seriously, and we’re determined to do right by him ... We wanted to do the story right by Tim and vets and other people that have experienced Vietnam ... in the same manner that we take seriously stories that involve weight, or anxiety, or miscarriages, or adoption. We’re trying to treat Vietnam with the same respect and research."

Something tells me I'm going to enjoy these episodes, and hopefully, Vietnam era vets will too.