Three new network shows are vying to capture This Is Us' weep-worthy success
ABC's A Million Little Things and NBC's Manifest and New Amsterdam are all blatantly ripping a page from the This Is Us tear-jerker playbook. "There is a fine line between emotional storytelling and trauma porn, and, at least in their first episodes, these three dramas wobble precariously as they negotiate that line," says Kevin Fallon. "This Is Us works because of how purposeful and methodically it uses story to manipulate emotion, because of the audience’s desire to be coerced into that emotion, and, most importantly, because of how fully realized the characters are, so that each twist and tragic moment rings of a familiar truth. Any dismissal of This Is Us as a pandering tearjerker ignores the fact that this is something very hard to pull off, let alone do as well as the series manages. It’s so hard to do that even This Is Us’ creator, Dan Fogelman, recently failed in spectacular fashion in attempting to recreate its formula and magic. (Film critics agree: Steer very clear of Life Itself.)"
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