Third-episode verdict: This Is Us (US: NBC; UK: Channel 4)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 2

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, NBC
In the UK: Acquired by Channel 4

People aren’t perfect. But deep down, we’re all the same. We try our best. We love. We laugh. We make mistakes. But ultimately we’re all good and want the best for each other and ourselves.

If that statement sets your teeth on edge, or seems annoyingly liberal and/or rose-tinted then This Is Us is not for you. A show that’s not as smart as it clearly thinks it is, it sees four people – Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Sterling K Brown and Milo Ventimiglia – all sharing the same birthday, all with their own different story to tell, but ultimately linked in the way that we all are, aren’t we?

Episode one was especially smug, with a twist at the end you could see coming from pretty far off, while episode two dialed the smug down a little yet still tried to pull off an end twist that was barely a twist at all it was so obvious.

For a little variety, episode three put its twist right at the beginning so you had almost no time to suspect there was even going to be a twist, which was novel. It was also almost tolerable in its smugness, despite all manner of quite cynical heart-jerking moves and no less a character than a poetry-reading, bus-hopping heroin addict who just means well, don’t you know? And, to be fair, it did pick up on aspects of the pilot that were perhaps glossed over in the rush to that first twist to make sure they weren’t ignored.

It also had a big reach out to uber-nerds like me, with Hartley name-dropping Jason Momoa – most would thrill simply to the mention of Game of Thrones, but it was the fact it was TV Aquaman shouting out to film Aquaman that made it for me.

Overall, This Is Us is consistent in being pretty good – not great, not bad, not average – but also pretty annoying TV. It’s smart but not as smart as it thinks it is (is there genuinely an American family who would name their triplets Kate, Kyle and Kevin? Really? KKK?). The people-centred plots are improbable and entirely geared up to trying to get the audience to cry with the loveliness of everyone in the face of life’s challenges. Brown is funny, Metz is talented and Hartley amusingly self-centred, so overall there are no real weak links, although oddly, of all the cast, it’s former singer and voice of Tangled‘s Rapunzel Mandy Moore – Ventimiglia’s wife in the show – who’s the real standout, able to do happy and sad, (spoiler alert)young and old, with aplomb.

If you can watch an episode without wanting to punch everyone, you’re doing well; if you like having tears milked out of you with the efficiency of the average large dair, you should find This Is Us rewarding and perhaps even a must-see. Everyone with a dark mind or an ice chip for a heart should steer clear like a vampire away from the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Barrometer rating: 2
Would it be better with a female lead? N/A
TMINE’s prediction: Will probably run for as long as Parenthood