“This is Us”?

I blasted through 16-17 seasons of CSI/CSI: Vegas from late March/early April to early August.

Though I’d watched large parts of several seasons of CSI Miami and CSI New York and caught the occasional episode of “original” CSI, I had never watched the show in full.

I hit a tipping point with YouTube, getting so frustrated and tired of ads upon ads upon ads that I’d wanted to watch something NOT on YouTube, just to avoid the ads. To watch CONTENT without it being some sorta…I don’t even know the word I want. “Extortion” is surely too harsh…but when it seems like the ads are there to “drive” users to the PAID version of YT…no, thank you!

Anyway, the entire run of CSI in less than 5 months. A few years back I did 21 seasons of Law & Order: SVU in about 11 months.

But after CSI…after all that death and worst days of peoples’ lives (doesn’t matter they were fiction, they had good actors!) I needed a change of pace. I wasn’t gonna repeat stuff with diving into CSI Miami or CSI New York. So, what to dive into next?

I think I sampled a couple shows between Hulu and Netflix…decided the newest season of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous is NOT for me; and though I enjoyed the first season enough, not in the mood for the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon on Netflix.

Then I remembered that show I watched an episode of with Sara back in April. “This is Us.” I’d heard nothing but good about the show; she seemed to really enjoy it, and that single episode I saw didn’t turn me OFF to the show, so might as well check it out, right? I’d also heard it was a “moving” show, deep, and had brought tears.

But what harm in “checking it out” from the first episode, at least? Maybe it’d suck. Maybe it wouldn’t grab me. Maybe…

And hey, it’s got Justin Hartley in it (Green Arrow on Smallville, Aquaman in the unaired pilot, etc). AND…it’s only 6 seasons, so not like it’s investing in a decade-plus series.

Well, it’s grabbed me. Big-time. I’m already about halfway through the third season, and it’s been maybe 3 weeks?

I think part of the appeal–for me–is identifying with several of the main characters. The characters were born in 1980. So was I. THOUGH with watching the show in 2022 here, I’m actually a few years OLDER than the characters as I watch…but had I watched as the show was “current,” same age.

And the way it shows all these characters’ lives and how these lives impact each other…the word I keep using to describe it is “authentic.” I can believe these characters are real. And the narrative structure of the show is a mix of linear and non-linear…following the lives of several people, but then also showing moments that shaped them as relevant to current events.

The show touches on some tough topics, rough topics…some that hit so very close to MY heart. As I type this, I’m debating how specific to get…cuz I don’t really want to SPOIL the show for anyone, but that leaves me talking in rather vague terms.

Seeing William’s story with Randall especially hit deep. While LOADS that I cannot BEGIN to identify with, parts are universal, at least to certain situations; one of which I’ve now been through.

And Despite “clues” dropping throughout the first season and several failed “assumptions” on my part, in the SECOND season we learn about another character, and what happens there and how it affects his family honestly hit me like a punch to the gut.

In the third season, where I am with it NOW…we’re learning about a character’s time in Vietnam, as his son looks for answers.

Thus we come to the thrust of this particular post, what spurred me to write tonight.

I know that MY Dad served in Vietnam. I know that he did not get a welcome back, recognition, a parade, etc…it wasn’t til the early 2000s at a Magic Moondog Coronation Ball that he ever got “recognized” by “strangers” in a crowd, for his service.

I know that he was on an “ammo ship” during the war; that Agent Orange does NOT merely stop at a body of water; I know that he met Eric when they joined the Navy; I know he connected with friends over being veterans…AND I know that even up to college and beyond, it was more of a clinical “fact” that Dad had served in Vietnam.

I knew he retired from the Navy in 1991. and I know that over the last 15 years his being a Veteran became a more pronounced thing to ME.

See, he was always DAD. And while I’d given him a copy of Paul Fussel’s Norton Anthology of Modern War, figuring that Dad could read that and then decide for HIMSELF what (if anything) to share with me…we never got around to that.

I’ve realized I know next to nothing about his ACTUAL experiences in Vietnam. And as I watch This is Us, I find myself more curious, and thinking about it a lot more.

As I’ve said before, that night he was in the hospital, December 28 into 29, it had hit me that I didn’t have any of his stories recorded. I have these snippets of memories of him talking about stuff…anecdotes…but nothing at length, nothing specific that I, myself, could properly share or tell others. That I was gonna have to make more time with him, TO talk about stuff…to LISTEN and let HIM talk. To me.

We never got that.

And so I can only really “imagine” anything he did…or did not…go through.

I know there was some stuff he’d apparently never talked to anyone about that came up while he was in physical rehab back in 2017; he told me something about blaming himself for someone who died (after Vietnam), and whatnot…but it never really sank in to me how much he may have been avoiding talking about. At least to me.

AND…me being me…I never pried.

It may not even be my “place” to seek or “pry” into that time. I know MY experience with him in the just over 41 years I had with him. And I know he was often very open with me ABOUT certain stuff. But…there’s also stuff I didn’t even find out about until right before he went into the hospital that last time, that I never knew about extended family. Stuff that doesn’t really affect me or change anything about the family I’ve known and my experiences…just some stuff that I never knew.

So where am I going with this?

I feel like a broken record with vagaries and such, where when I first thought to write this post I figured there’d be more to say…but realized I didn’t want to spoil the show for anyone who might read this, that might eventually watch it.

More later, I suppose.

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