‘This Is Us’: Is NBC to blame for the show ending after 6 seasons?
Looks like “this is the end” for This Is Us on NBC.
Really? Nothing? We’re just trying to keep the mood light. This Is Us makes us shed enough tears on its own, without news of cancellation adding an extra layer of sadness to the proceedings. And now we have to deal with the prospect of the show ending after next season? We’re not ready.
Alas, it seems like This Is Us will end with season 6, at least according to a source that spilled the beans to The Hollywood Reporter. Why would NBC pull the plug on one of the most successful shows on its roster? Do ratings & fandom mean nothing anymore? Let’s dive into the news and see what’s what.
Not a cancellation?
Actually, when it comes to the end of This Is Us on NBC, the writing has been on the wall for a while now. Show creator Dan Fogelman has been pretty vocal about how This Is Us was never conceived as the kind of TV series that would go on for more than a few seasons. In fact, Fogelman referred to the end of season 3 as the “midpoint” in the This Is Us story. Makes sense that the end of season 6 would be the series finale.
Back in April 2019, Fogelman leveled with The Hollywood Reporter about how far in advance he had planned This Is Us: “We never set out to make a television series that was going to last eighteen seasons, so we have a very direct plan. I have script pages I have written and I’m writing that really are deep, deep, deep into the future. We have a plan for what we’re going to do, and I know what the plan is.”
So, taking Dan Fogelman at his word, we can go a little easier on NBC, since it’s not really cancelling This Is Us. The network is simply honoring the show’s creator’s wishes, much as it must hurt them to do so. There was a time when NBC might have allowed themselves to hope they could talk Fogelman into extending the This Is Us saga, but that window seems to have closed. To quote Dr. Strange, “We’re in the end game now.”
Back & forth
Once you sit down and think about it, it makes sense for This Is Us to come to an end. We could argue it’s surprising Fogelman managed to stretch out the story this long already. The gimmick of the show makes it so the longer it goes on, the most likely it is to trip over its storytelling device.
The way This Is Us works is by telling stories in two separate but related timelines: the characters’ past & present – and in recent developments, also their future. Most episodes are structured to deliver setups & payoffs between the two times while advancing the overall story in both. Oh, and working the audience’s tear ducts relentlessly too.
The creative approach to storytelling in This Is Us doesn’t just make it difficult for the show to run for too long. It also risks numbing the audience to its tricks. What seemed innovative during the first few seasons could easily feel contrived & played out by season 10 (hello, The Walking Dead!). So perhaps it’s not a bad idea for This Is Us to close up shot on NBC while the going’s still good.
So This Is Us is ending on NBC with season 6. What can we expect from its remaining episodes? Well, the network hasn’t even confirmed an episode count yet – although odds are the show will go back to having an eighteen-episode season again. That way Fogelman’s baby would get to be over a hundred episodes old, which would help it get one of those sweet syndication deals.
Dan Fogelman, by the way, still has years to go before his current deal with Disney’s 20th Television is up. We’re talking about a nine-figure deal, so we’re sure he doesn’t mind. According to The Hollywood Reporter, 20th Television studio chief Karey Burke has been trying to get Fogelman to develop a new series, and with This Is Us wrapping up on NBC, her dreams may come true.
As for the This Is Us audience . . . sounds like we’ll just have to stock up on Kleenex and hope our hearts don’t break too much during that final season.
What do you think about This Is Us ending with season 6? Let us know in the comments!