Shows like This is Us come around once in a generation.
Tackling themes that relate to elements infrequently represented in mainstream media and establishing a deeply emotional resonance with its audience, the show has fully cemented its place in primetime.
While the narrative of This is Us has captured viewers for four seasons, the show's success has been propelled by more than just its trademark tear-jerking drama. For Niles Fitch, who plays a young Randall Pearson (a role he shares with Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown) it's a collective effort that has not only helped him grow as an artist and performer, but as a person.
"It's just really great writing, you know? The writers just make it so easy for me to become Randall," Fitch said, "Me and (Sterling K. Brown, who plays Randall as an adult) work to ﬁgure out how we're going to go about it, because we're not necessarily trying to play each other. Eighteen-year-old Randall is not going to be the same as Randall at 40."
With a story that spans across multiple decades and depicts each of "The Big Three" in multiple phases of their lives, Randall's unique path has been a focal point of the show for the past three seasons, and one that continues to be prominent in season four.
"I think we're starting to see Randall growing and changing," Fitch said, "We're seeing how he goes from the person he was to how he becomes the version of himself that we see from Mr. Sterling."
Audiences who have watched the Pearsons grow up on This is Us this far know that each member of the family have grown and changed during the show's tenure. Behinds the scenes, however, the show's production has pushed Fitch and his peers to push themselves as actors in embodying each of their respective characters.
"I remember one day I was on set with Mr. Milo (Milo Ventimiglia, who portrays Jack Pearson), and we were doing a scene, and I asked him if he had any ideas for me, anything I could try.
He said, 'Have ever though of just breathing?'" Fitch said, "It completely changed the way that I approached the scene. I've gotten to have a few of those moments on the show, where other cast members have helped me reach a new level. I've been able to grow a lot from that."
While the show has been a driving force behind his artistic growth, Fitch says that each season's production has been more than an acting exercise; the show has given him greater personal insight, too.
"If I could say one thing (that I've learned), I would just say the importance of kindness," Fitch said, "Just being kind to people. The show has a lot of emotion, there's a lot of things that are similar to experiences I have had, and I would say that being Randall every day on set has let me see more into that."
Fitch's on-set inspiration has also translated to his off-set life, including one matter that is very personal the 18-year-old Atlanta native.
"I have a friend who was adopted, and saw the show," Fitch said, "Seeing how they reacted and how the show reﬂected what they had been through…It's awesome, it's a blessing."
Looking forward, Fitch wants fans to know that the upcoming season of This is Us will include some major moments for each of the characters, especially his own.
"I think the biggest thing for me as an actor is just seeing Randall change over time," Fitch said, "How people react to the things that happen to him and each member of the family… I think people are going to be really surprised by what's coming up."
With This is Us renewed through season 6, fans can expect a lot more from Fitch and company. It's a challenge that, according to Fitch, is very much welcome.
"I've really become very comfortable being Randall," Fitch siad, "Showing up every day just slipping into that role. Watching the character grow has been a great journey, so, we'll see where it goes."
This is Us airs Tuesday nights on NBC.