Ron Batzdorff / NBC

This Is Us Makes The Most Of Career Day

And Al Lowe loves this show as much as a human heart can.

Here, I present a list of things I said -- possibly shouted and, sometimes, wailed -- aloud while watching "Career Days," ranked from "aw" to "owwww."

  1. "TODDLER BIG THREE."
    I wasn't ready to see the Big Three as toddlers in their high chairs! It was the cutest thing of all time and I want more, mostly because, though it was the tiniest snippet of a segment, it seemed like a joyful moment in the life of this family.
  2. "You don't play piano while infants sleep in the room!"
    The more likely scenario -- and by "more likely" I mean "I've done it" -- would be Rebecca crouching down on the floor by the cribs, tunelessly singing the four discordant bars of the song that plays on one of her children's most annoying toys, i.e. the only thing that calms them down.
  3. "Nobody told me Jami Gertz would be here!"
    I love her. I know, I know -- that sitcom, whatever it was called. Forget that. Square Pegs, forever. Like, she was in The Lost Boys! Will she be back? And, if so, is she here to help Kate find meaningful work AND work out her relationship with her mom? I hope so. Though I loudly cheered when Kate literally kicked Marin's daughter, Jemma, to the curb, I'm not going to be happy if Chrissy Metz is relegated to some kind of Fat Lady Learns About Herself While Helping Others thing. She is too good for that. The previews of next week with the awkward run-in with Toby at his apartment don't bode well, and I can't stand the thought of Kate falling into a sadness tub of ice cream only to be rescued by Jemma giving her new perspective, or something. I don't know. I just want her to kick ass all day and not have to go through dumb things.
  4. "Randall. Is. THE BEST."
    Is there a better character on TV right now than Randall? Sterling K. Brown is a huge part of what makes him great, but every week I watch Randall's story unfold, I am amazed by what we're learning about this particular character, previously not represented on American television. The stuff they're doing about adoption alone is so incredibly smart, but the interracial adoption/interracial family story that is slowly emerging is touching and revealing on another level. Representation is important, to everyone. If you'll allow me to talk from an obviously privileged viewpoint for a second, I'm particularly struck by Randall's humanity and how he -- successful, happily married and black -- is the one so fully embodying the angst of his generation right now. Their uncertainties about adulthood, parenthood, their own upbringing, money, careers, etc. Randall is actually us, and the fact that these angles are being so perfectly related by a black man for what feels like the first time ever is so interesting.

    Ron Batzdorff / NBC

    Ron Batzdorff / NBC

    Randall's sudden desire to have inherited musicality from William and live his sax dreams -- to be "like Wesley in Mo' Betta Blues" -- is so tender, I literally felt myself fall in love with him, but to see the callback to his mother playing piano around the kids and that connecting throughline to his career day performance...that nod to nurture, along with his necktie revelation, really killed me.

    And, look, If You've Got A Farm, You Should Know The Future Cost Of Corn! It's catchy, because it's true! Heeeee. All together, now!

  5. "Shut Up, Miguel."
    Why do I hate Miguel so much? He's been onscreen a total of four minutes, but I do not feel good about him. So, he got promoted and sort of negged Jack into working under him? Why couldn't Jack be the one who was promoted? Was it because Miguel badmouthed him to the suits? It doesn't make me happy that Rebecca went and married this dude. Whatever subtle shading they're doing to make me react this way, it's working. I'm watching you, Miguel!
  6. "Damn, Kevin."
    They're killing me with this guy. From week to week, I'm upside down on his storyline and how to feel about him. This is the slowest burning "TV Hot Guy" ever!

    Ron Batzdorff / NBC

    Ron Batzdorff / NBC

    I hate his dumb play co-star -- who teaches acting this way? -- but every little chip in Kevin's grief wall shows unexpected magnitudes of emotional substance behind it. The dude has been boxing up his feelings in so many ways for so long, I feel like he's the one, out of all of them, most in danger of an actual mid-life crisis.

  7. "Dreams can come true. But not for free."
    Rebecca telling Jack to start his company because she doesn't want him to be unhappy.... My husband was in graduate school for ten years. (He would say nine, but it was ten.) Anyway, during that time I got laid off, twice; we became parents; he taught a thousand adjunct classes -- it took a lot longer than we expected. But, I insisted that he stay in, even through all that, because I really wanted one of us to get the thing that was hard to get. Rebecca, who we already know was a reluctant mother fearing she would have to abandon her musical dreams, is willing to go all in for Jack's happiness. He steps around it, from what we see, but I wonder if she kept her musical life on the back burner, and why, and what it did to her. That Jack seems to have set his big reach aside so that Randall could have his: it's terrible and beautiful in the way that these sorts of decisions have to exist in life as both things at once.
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