As fans gear up for the grand finale of This Is Us on May 24, series creator and executive producer Dan Fogelman is giving us a little tease for how viewers could another dose of Pearson family drama in the future.
TV Insider was on hand at the NBC show’s FYC Emmy event on May 22, where Fogelman and the cast discussed the upcoming series finale (titled “Us”), and life after the hit series. While there, we grabbed the ear of Fogelman to get some scoop on the final episode, Kate (Chrissy Metz) making it to her mother Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) bedside before she passed away, and how the show’s signature twists through the years, including the latest one with Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) at the hospital in the penultimate episode.
Plus, we ask the big boss what he thinks of all of the requests for a This Is Us movie or reunion series before the show has even broadcast its finale.
In “The Train” episode, why was it important to have Kate get to Rebecca before she died? There are so many people who’ve lost their parents who didn’t get that moment.
Dan Fogelman: Beyond COVID, I have been struck by enough friends and people, who have lost parents and loved ones, myself included, who aren’t always able to get there. I wanted to create something special for everyone whether they were able to make it there in time or not. It was important for the nature of this TV show that we give this moment a “wish-fulfillment” ending. I thought there was something full circle about [Kate] being out of town precisely because of the advice her mother had given her to go live her life to the fullest. That was what had pulled Kate away.
It was a shock when Jack appeared in the hospital scene — we weren’t quite sure in which time period that story with Kenny (Dulé Hill) and his family was taking place. From a writing perspective, how do you do that?
It doesn’t take long to come up with the twist. From the beginning, I thought it would be great that if in our second to last episode we introduce a child and a family that survived the night of Jack’s death. What’s harder to execute are the details. How do you keep it secret? How do you keep it buried? How do you keep the audience from thinking that something else is happening?
Audiences are sophisticated enough nowadays. They may think that “OK, they’re telling me that this is Déjà ‘s [Lyric Ross] boyfriend, but they’re going to throw us a twist here.” So, then, we ask ourselves what’s the thing that they’re expecting to be the twist and how do you undermine that? And, then, what’s the proper way to execute it?
The show’s not even off the air and yet people are asking when will the reunion movie or revival series happen? Understandably, you’d probably like to decompress but how does it feel to see people wanting more?
It’s a wonderful thing. I’ve made a bunch of TV series that ended not because I wanted them to end. With This Is Us, I feel we’ve gone out creatively with the best stuff we’ve done. I feel that we’ve gone out while we’re still popular and while people still care about the show. There’s something really rewarding about telling a story the way you wanted to tell it and tell it completely as opposed to stretching [the show out] for the all the wrong reasons — for commerce or because we all like each other.
Creatively, it felt like it was time. I feel very proud of what we did and that we stuck to our guns on how we’re going to end this show.
This Is Us, Series Finale, Tuesday, May 24, 9/8c, NBC