If you’re like the rest of us who are admittedly obsessed with NBC’s breakout drama This Is Us, then you know that the show has not shied away from socially taboo issues.
(Warning—This Is Us Season 1 spoilers ahead).
I mean, take it all the way back to the beginning, when Rebecca and Jack went into a tricky labor and lost their baby boy, Kyle. Child-loss is often a hushed topic—especially on TV—but not only did the show’s creators talk about it, they embraced it with a double-whammy taboo.
After losing their son during childbirth, the Pearsons adopted a baby boy who was left at a fire station the exact same day. He was their son, and they raised him as the third triplet. The difference was, in a middle- to upper-class family of white people, their adopted son Randall was black.
Then we’ve got Kate and her fiancé, Toby, whose battles with weight-loss and self-image are not only relatable but inspiring.
So there’s no surprise that This Is Us, tackled yet another taboo head-on in season one. And like the others, this one hit home.
They perfectly and accurately portrayed the misunderstood effects of anxiety, and the excruciating toll that panic attacks can have on the person who is experiencing them.
In the scene that has the show’s audience members applauding, we see Randall call his brother Kevin to tell him that he wasn’t able to make it to the play that evening. Randall appeared totally detached from the phone conversation, yet visibly filled with emotion.
The scene then shows a flashback—the show’s specialty—of the two brothers when they were teenagers, where Kevin saw Randall suffering from an anxiety-induced panic attack, but walked away.
— This Is Us (@NBCThisisUs) February 15, 2017
Randall’s physical instability, disassociation, stress and overwhelming emotion are all things that can factor into panic attacks. They often strike with no warning, and can throw an uncontrollable inconvenience into someone’s life (like attacking right before the opening night of your brother’s play).
Major praise to This Is Us for breaking those societal barriers that pose misconceptions about mental health. Rather than silencing the stigma or sweeping it under the rug, the show embraced the reality of what millions of people face, and once again reminded us why we’re obsessed with This Is Us.