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Sometimes the power of a story is clear.
Like a lot of people, I often watch TV at the end of the day to unwind. I don’t typically turn on a show thinking “It’s time to learn something.” But there are also times when I find myself deeply relating to something that the characters are going through, or when I’m facing a challenge and think back to how a similar scenario unfolded in a favorite show or film. In those moments, whether consciously or subconsciously, stories have helped me process my reality.
With so few mainstream depictions of families who are navigating dementia and caregiving, it’s no wonder that NBC’s This is Us struck a chord with so many caregivers around the U.S. The series was radical in how it centered Rebecca Pearson (played by Mandy Moore) in decision-making about her care in the wake of an early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but also groundbreaking in terms of capturing her family’s care journey with authenticity and nuance.
As the series wrapped up its final season in May of this year, our team, alongside our partners at HFC, had the wonderful privilege to convene several of the cast members, including Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz, Jon Huertas, and series executive producer KJ Steinberg, for a backyard chat with our executive director Ai-jen Poo and HFC co-founders Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller Rogen, to celebrate the value and impact of visibilizing care across the lifespan.
In very This is Us fashion, the conversation was heart-wrenching, funny, teary, and hopeful. Personal experiences mingled with reflections on the story. One comment, though, captured exactly why I believe intentional storytelling about care has the power to change lives.
Chrissy Metz (who played Kate Pearson) shared that her IRL family is navigating care for her mother, and that her own sister has pointed to This is Us as a way to initiate tough conversations: “She’s like, ‘Oh, remember when Rebecca said such and such…?’ said Metz. “The show that I’m on is helping us to bridge the gap. That’s amazing.”
It is amazing. And it’s important. Stories are powerful.
We may not always recognize it in the moment, but the shows we watch can shape our lives. The stories on TV help us make sense of the world. They give us reference points and road maps for situations we face. They remind us we’re not alone. Stories create connection and foster community with others sharing similar experiences. We need cultural models that reflect the entire range of the human experience, including and especially caregiving.
Join us in calling on Hollywood to tell more stories that uplift and honor care experiences in our entertainment. Sign our petition calling on Hollywood to include more care stories in film and TV content.