I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been reprimanded by friends and loved ones, “You haven’t watched ‘This is Us?’ Why not?!” It’s as frequent a refrain when the topic of favorite shows comes up as is this line: “It’s honestly about the only thing worth watching on TV these days.”
It’s true my wife and I have never watched an episode. Not because we have anything against the premise of the show or because we are trying to resist some bizarre form of adult peer-pressure. We just never think about it and in the short time span between getting our young kids in bed and when we fall asleep ourselves, television takes a back seat to the myriad of other things we have to accomplish.
But while I know the program is a bit of a cultural phenomenon right now, there’s a significant hole in what it is preaching that an increasing number of people are starting to notice: the program is apparently completely devoid of faith. Kristen Wetherell wrote an excellent analysis of this disconcerting and confusing reality that brings up a number of excellent points, first of which is that the lack of religious values shouldn’t surprise any Christian:
Christians shouldn’t be surprised by this void. It’s a secular show created for an American culture whose primary “religion” is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, interwoven with relativism and moralism. But we should take careful note of the gaping, godless hole in This Is Us. We can enjoy the show and be thankful for its themes, while still recognizing the absence of ultimate truth.
Perhaps I should stop here just to make it clear that I am not suggesting that believers not watch the show. As Wetherell is saying, a Christian can easily appreciate that there is a show on television that isn’t inappropriate or promoting immoral themes while still acknowledging that it falls short of edifying Godliness. For example, it’s wonderful to promote the importance of family, but a Christian understands,
No human being can supply what only God can in Christ. To expect family to fulfill us, then, is a dead-end road. While family is a wonderful gift and can be a place of safety and security, it was never intended to be our “everything.” It simply can’t be.
The same is true of the central principle in the show – that while death is inevitable and is inescapable, the memories of our loved ones live on through “us.” But every believer knows that this is antithetical to the truth articulated by Jesus that real death is escapable: “I am the resurrection and the life…whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
Again, this isn’t so much a warning to Christians not to be misled into thinking Jesus was wrong, but rather a reminder that a great number of our fellow citizens watching don’t know better. Wetherell writes,
The gaping, godless hole in Kevin’s explanation (“I think it’s us”) should leave us deeply concerned and unsettled for viewers who lack clarity on spiritual realities. It’s confusing at best and damning at worst. Christians should grieve the culture’s God-less, Christ-less view of life and death; and we should also rejoice that, in our Savior, death is confronted and destroyed, leading to life that literally “has no end” in his presence.
You may not be able to reach everyone who watches the show with this truth, but given its popularity, you can probably reach a few. It could make an eternal difference if you do.