Oh, to be back in March 2020.
This Is Us returns for season five this week, and before the show can catch up to the Big Three’s tense 40th birthday in August, it’s got to do a little backtracking to explain how the world completely flipped on its head in the time since the season four finale. E! News has an exclusive first look at a scene in which Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) family is beginning to grapple with just how serious the coronavirus pandemic is. Deja (Lyric Ross) seems to be the one who’s most on top of it, even if the facts were a little iffy back then.
“My friend Daphne says if you touch your face you automatically get it,” Annie (Faithe C. Herman) tells her family.
“You might,” Deja says. “This thing is serious. People need to wake the hell up!”
Randall, meanwhile, is on the phone with his mother. The clinical trial, which spurred that massive fight between Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall and may have torn the family apart, is officially postponed, but Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) has bigger news.
“Holy crap,” she says. “Tom Hanks got it.”
Randall’s first reaction is to call his sister, which Beth isn’t so sure about.
“It’s Tom Hanks, Beth,” he says. “She gotta hear this from me.”
Hanks announced that he and his wife Rita Wilson both tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11, back before most of the United States went under various stay-at-home orders. That was more than seven months ago, and most of us are still staying home!
This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman confirmed in August that the show would be addressing the pandemic and Kevin can be seen wearing a mask in the premiere trailer. During a virtual panel with the cast and a group of reporters on Friday, Fogelman explained that “it felt almost irresponsible” to not take on the coronavirus pandemic on screen.
“I think you’ll find when you see the episodes of the show that it very much lives in that same space of the show, where you’re talking about the human experience and not the political experience of anything,” he said. “It’s really what these characters, if they’re real human beings, would be dealing with in the world right now. We have not been afraid to touch on things like addiction or body image or race or Alzheimer’s or any of the myriad of things we’ve taken on. So, I think we’ve attacked it in hopefully an elegant way that is very much of our show, but it really speaks to what our show tries to do and tries to be. But it was not a decision made lightly.”
Most This Is Us premieres take place about six months after the last finale and season five is no different. But naturally, they had to go back to show the Pearsons adjusting to the new state of the world before they could celebrate birthdays, reveal Ke