Honestly, it's been coming for four seasons.
The fourth season of This Is Us has introduced perhaps the highest stakes the show has seen since the death of Jack Pearson.
Kate's (Chrissy Metz) psychologically abusive ex-boyfriend endangered her life after fat-shaming her, Rebecca's memory is showing early signs of dementia or possibly Alzheimer's disease, and Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) are careening towards a fallout. Last season's finale revealed that Rebecca's (Mandy Moore) memory loss doesn't improve and that Kevin and Randall are no longer on speaking terms by the siblings' 40th birthday. With four episodes remaining this season, attentive fans have conjured theories that their division is possibly caused by Randall experiencing another nervous breakdown or disagreements over their mother's healthcare. But despite showing closeness in their adult lives, the two brothers have always been in conflict.
Most fans seem to believe that the gravity of Rebecca's health crisis will force the brothers' disparate personalities to collide: Kevin, self-centered but well-meaning, takes a laid back approach to life, while Randall, empathetic but controlling, is compelled to solve every problem with a hands-on approach–to the point of perfectionism. During childhood, young Kevin often showed resentment for Randall. In one flashback, Jack sternly asked him why he was unkind to his brother, but Kevin grew upset, yelled, "I don't know!" and ran off in tears. As adults, Kevin has vented his frustration that Randall seems to be their mother's favorite child; and, when Kate was pregnant, he made an offhand comment that he and Kate were the only ones capable of carrying on their father's legacy. As their adopted brother, Randall questioned how Kevin could exclude him from their family legacy so easily.
Still, the brothers have continued to share a close bond this season, as they continually reach out to each other for support during times of strife, such as Randall's panic attacks or when Kevin struggled to get back on his feet after rehab. The episode "The Cabin" ended with a telling flash forward far into the Pearson's future as the entire family gathered around an ailing Rebecca. As executive producers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger have oh-so-slowly fleshed out this compelling scene over multiple seasons, we've discovered that Kevin's future not only includes a fiancee (and assumedly a wife) and a son but that he's built his late father's dream house on land overlooking the Pearson family's cabin. In the present day, the siblings met at the cabin after a highly stressful week of confronting past trauma, and Kevin and Randall shared a tense moment when Kevin discovers that his siblings have kept their mother's condition from him.
In last week's episode, "Clouds," Rebecca finally received the results of her MRI, which indicated that her "mild cognitive impairment" was likely a sign of the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. The news ended an otherwise relaxing day spent with Kevin, who fulfilled Rebecca's wish to see Joni Mitchell's house in person. Meanwhile, Randall finally attended his first therapy session, thereby missing the revealing doctor appointment that's bound to change the entire Pearson family.
Hartley has teased the cause of their rift to Entertainment Tonight, stating, "It's more than a misunderstanding. I think it's a philosophy. It's like, 'This is how you handle your life and this is how you deal with things and this is what you think. I go about my business in a different way.'"
On the brother's relationship, Berger said, "The thing about Kevin and Randall's relationship, like many sibling relationships, is that you can move on from issues and you can be there for each other in the moment. But the past never really goes away. It kind of just lives underneath the surface."
This Is Us airs on Tuesdays, on NBC at 9 PM
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Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
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