Despite the emotional punch of the series, its writers have aimed to create nuanced stories that span a spectrum of tones, Mastai says. “We’re not just trying to make audiences cry. We don’t just want one thing, we want the episodes to feel like an emotional journey – where people are going to feel emotional, [and] they’re going to feel moved, but also going to feel uplifted.” One element that shines through is the sense of the Pearsons trying to be there for each other. “It’s the portrait of a family,” says Mastai. “It’s a tapestry we are weaving across generations and people find different entry points… We’ve been able to tell the story as a very simple story about a family.”
It’s a simple story that’s now drawing to a close – and even that is something the show has done in its own way. “It’s a very rare thing, from what I’ve seen on network TV… that [a show] can end on its own terms,” says Mazzeo. “It has a beginning, middle and an end and then it’s done. That’s so rare, such an advantage. And I can’t think of another [show] where they were given that freedom and given that trust, to end how they wanted to.”
But what should we anticipate in the final episode? “The audience should just expect a really heartfelt, honest, uplifting goodbye to characters they hopefully have come to care about over six years as much as we the writers do,” says Matsai. “All the important questions will have been answered… [it will be an] emotional send-off to this family that’s meant so much to so many.”
And that family is all that This is Us has needed to keep the world hooked. “We’re still the number one show on network television in America… six years in,” says Mastai. “One of the biggest shows in the world has no murders, no surgeons, no lawyers… no battles, no saving the world. It’s just a story about a family who’s trying to be there for each other through life’s ups and downs.”
The final episode of This is Us airs on NBC in the US on 24 May and on Disney+ and Amazon Prime in the UK on 26 May.
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