Saying Goodbye to the Pearson Family

“This is Us” comes to an end, and why I’ll miss Rebecca most

They have been weekly guests in my home for the last seven years—before COVID was a word, and before Apple TV, Paramount, and YouTube TV were viewing options. Sometimes the visits were heartwarming and fun, but more often, our family gatherings around the kitchen table over Thanksgiving dinners were filled with stress and drama. Together, we’ve weathered untimely deaths, addictions, divorces, and illnesses. Simply put, we’ve been there for each other. Or rather, I’ve been there for them. Truth is, they have never acknowledged my loyalty because the Pearson family is too busy worrying about the Pearson family. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Which is why I’m still here for them, tissue box beside me, preparing to say goodbye to the gang on the NBC hit drama, This is Us after seven rollercoaster years. Are they the most narcissistic woe-is-me group of whiners inhabiting the airwaves today? Perhaps, but, like family, we love them anyway.

I’m loyal to my TV friends. It’s the only explanation I have for suffering through the excruciating final season of How I met Your Mother. It’s why I continued hanging with the ladies on Mom after Anna Faris left the show. And it’s why I stuck with Mad Men long after Don Draper and the gang left the cool martini era of the 60’s. And it’s why I’ll be right alongside those Pearson kids as they stand together around Rebecca’s bed to say their goodbyes to their mother.

Speaking of Rebecca…

After seven years of analyzing each Pearson family member under the microscope, I have concluded that I’m going to miss Rebecca most. Caught between dreams of being a singer, duties to her family, and looking for love again after losing the love of her life, this flawed character is believable and real as she tries to make the best of difficult situations while also constantly reminding her children that they are her everything. The fact that 50+ women everywhere can relate to actress Mandy Moore (AKA Rebecca), currently in her late 30’s, is testament to her acting skills as she regularly portrays Rebecca in her later years. Her acting is believable—whether she is portraying Young Rebecca navigating through courtship, or Mature Rebecca finding her way again post-Jack.  

If you want proof of just how relatable Rebecca is to the everyday woman, let’s look at a recent episode where Young Mother Rebecca goes out to dinner with Jack to celebrate their anniversary. She proceeds to get quite drunk, and when the two of them are forced to rush home to save the babysitter, they later sit down with the kids to discuss what happened. After Rebecca and Jack learn from the boys that the babysitter was “mean” to their sister, Rebecca asks, “What do you mean, mean?” She then pauses, pondering what she just said, and repeats, more to herself, “Mean, mean,” causing her to laugh at her own joke—a joke no one else finds humorous. This small moment is priceless, making me love her even more.  

I measure the likability of TV and literary characters I come across on my viewing and reading adventures based on the type of conversation the two of us might have over a drink. I not only can envision Rebecca and me laughing over drinks, but I can also see myself telling the bartender, “We’ll have another.” While I will miss the entire Pearson family, I will miss Rebecca most. Maybe down the road, we’ll catch up on Netflix.

CAN WE GO “HOME” AGAIN?

THE WALTONS: HOMECOMING – a 60 Second Movie Review

WARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS PISS ANT SPOILER

When the CW announced recently that the beloved TV series, The Waltons would be receiving a reboot on their network, old people throughout the world rejoiced, and every young person went, “Huh?”

Never mind that. So, after trumpeting the news of this Christmas miracle, I feel obligated to providing my thoughts on the movie special that aired on December 28 on the CW Network – a holiday special featuring a family forced to deal with everyday life in the era following the 1929 stock-market crash and the hard times that followed.

SECOND WARNING…

Never watch a movie reboot with two sisters who remember every detail of the original adaptation and can’t get past the fact that every adaptation comes with new edits and dialogue. I understand their passion for tradition, but we are not the CW Network’s desired demographic. While I am sad that Mary Ellen no longer calls Elizabeth a piss ant (seriously, this is the best line in the original, and the mother’s reaction is priceless), I can only hope that this reboot brings a new crop of quotes to today’s younger generation. As a viewer who visited with the original Walton kids weekly, I have to say I was charmed by the new cast, with familiar faces filling the iconic roles (Hang on while I Google John Boy in Waltons Reboot. Oh yeah, 17-year-old Kevin from This is Us).

My only criticism is the needless Hallmark touch added to a show that attempts to depict life in an era that was darker and dirtier than what is shown in this sterilized version. But I am thankful and appreciate to be revisiting with this family on Walton’s Mountain. I cannot fathom this wholesome TV series surviving on a network full of shows overflowing with angst and superheroes, but something tells me that’s what they said the first time around.     

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

MOM… Because FRIENDS was already taken

After eight years, the CBS sitcom, MOM, is ending it’s run this May. I know 2021 is supposed to be about new beginnings, but I’m not ready to let go of these women I have grown to love. The premise of MOM was originally about a daughter and her mother, who were both recovering alcoholics, and the daughter’s trials raising her own children. Starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney, this comedy’s first episode included a drug joke told by Janney in front of her grandchildren. How funny, I thought. Nothing says “family fun” like grandma telling drug jokes. Apparently, the people behind the scenes agreed with me, and it didn’t take long before the children took a back seat, and in TV magic, simply disappeared, leaving mom and daughter, and their friends at the AA meetings where they regularly went to maintain their sobriety.

And that’s when we all got to know and learned to love that ragtag team of women, who, flaws and all, are always there for one another. The writing for this show is sharp, the humor has bite, and most important, it continues to be heartwarming without being overly sappy. These are the type of women I would like to have a drink with, and by drink, I mean a cup of coffee. Strong coffee.

Bonnie, Christy, Jill, Marjorie, Beth, Tammy … I’m going to miss you gals. Hopefully, we can catch up again someday on Netflix.

Little Movies Everywhere

As our New Normal continues, I sat down to watch a miniseries recently added to the online streaming service, Hulu, starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon. Having read the best-selling novel two years ago, I was looking forward to seeing this film adaptation featuring an affluent dysfunctional family. After all, nothing is more entertaining than reading about a rich family falling down a dark rabbit hole.   

The story opens with the torching of the Richardson’s home. (No spoiler alert here, this major event literally happens on the first page of the novel.) Refreshingly, with five of eight episodes now online, the miniseries remains loyal to the novel’s storyline and subplots.

I  have a rule when it comes to watching film adaptations. If I have any plans of reading the novel, it must be done prior to seeing the movie. There are two reasons why the order of this is important…

  • Movies are based on books, not the other way around – I’m sure there has been a successful novel based on a movie, but I can’t think of one. There’s a reason why the book comes first, and I’m not going to mess with the natural order of storytelling.  
  • When reading a book, it is important to draw my own visuals based on the author’s narrative – I don’t want to picture Reese Witherspoon as I sit alongside the main character while she watches her daughter walk into the school, wondering why her daughter isn’t following the metaphorical map she so carefully laid out for her. As I get lost within the pages of a novel, I am able to “see” the mother as she sits in her car, in full makeup even though it’s 6:30 in the morning. I am able to visualize this because of the author’s rich narrative, not because I’m envisioning Witherspoon’s interpretation.

While many movies fail to rekindle the fire of the novels they’re based on (I’m talking to you, “The Glass Castle.”), there is the occasional surprise film that eclipses the written word. “The Bridges of Madison County” film adaptation brought a simple story to life with strong performances by Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, while being directed by Eastwood. But this is an exception to the rule.

And rules are made to be broken. Many years ago, after being captivated by the raw performances by Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte in a 1991 drama based on a best-selling novel, I sat down with the book, “The Prince of Tides,” and fell in love with the Pat Conroy story for a second time.

So, how do I feel about the “Little Fires Everywhere” miniseries after five episodes? I am hooked on following the sad lives of those two families from Shaker Heights, Ohio all over again.