“This Is Us” series creator Dan Fogelman explained the untraditional season four premiere, which aired Tuesday night, in an interview with Variety.
The episode itself: The episode focused on three new characters (played by Jennifer Morrison, Blake Stadnik and Asante Blackk) — all of whom were later revealed to have direct ties to the show’s main characters — as well as Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore). The latter’s storyline centered around the couple’s early days when Jack met Rebecca’s parents for the first time.
The anchor: Fogelman told Variety the Rebecca-Jack story was “the right anchor” for a story that wasn’t the norm.
- “All of these new characters had relationships to the Big Three and less so Jack and Rebecca,” Fogelman told Variety, “so it felt like a good thing to anchor the show with the parents. It felt like it would also be enough of a roadmap for the audience where just when you’re away from your characters too long, you get a lot of Milo and Mandy to keep us in our world while we’re also expanding it.”
Next up: Fogelman said the premiere had an anxious feeling because of the new characters.
- But, he said, the new season won’t focus too much on the new stars. He said, “it’s not like we’re doing an entire season of television without the Big Three in it. This is a starting point. The next three, four, five episodes are just wildly traditional episodes of the show.”
- “You’re expecting something and then we flip it. And in format as well, we’ll do something for a couple of weeks and then flip it on its ear, so this is Dan (Fogelman) just playing. I love that he never stops playing and he never rests on what he’s done before. He’s constantly trying to outdo himself. I didn’t even know that was something you were looking for in a showrunner, but I adore it.”