Ahead of the season finale tonight, the This Is Us cast made a trip to Austin to bring their Pearson family love to SXSW in a featured session. Showrunner and creator Dan Fogelman was joined on stage by cast members Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, and Justin Hartley to talk about all the heartfelt and tearjerking moments leading to tonight’s season finale and the impact of the show at a time when the world can use a hug from a pair of caring parents like Rebecca and Jack Pearson.


After visiting the Deadline studio at SXSW and a special screening of the season two finale, Fogelman and the cast made one last stop at the Austin-based confab to chat with moderator Jessica Radloff from Glamour and celebrate the success of the family drama that has been lovingly referred to as comfort TV. Through tears, dysfunctional laughter, the response to the drama has been embraced by audiences and critics alike at a time when every day seems like a new soul-deflating piece of news is putting us on the fast track to a nuclear apocalypse.

For Fogelman, the ovation gives him hope and the fact that so many people have been attached to it gives him a sense of optimism despite all the divide going on in real life.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Moore adds to that sentiment. “I’m really proud to be part of a show that is so inclusive, during such a divisive time in this country.”

Even though This is Us gives us a semblance of love and faith in humanity, Fogelman sometimes wonders about the popularity in the show and how it is the polar opposite of the news he’s watching on CNN. Still, he believes that there will be a happy ending for the show and the world.

Just like their fans, the cast has taken away inspirational truths from the show. So much so that their personal takeaways from the show sound like pieces of wisdom from an oracle or the world’s best fortune cookie.

“If you lead with love, if you’re hopeful, if you’re inspiring, if you’re communicative, then you should lead a good life,” said Ventimiglia.

“This show has reminded me to slow down,” says Hartley. “You have to take time and enjoy your children, and your friends. It’s so delicate and so special and so sacred.”

The drama has come a long way since Fogelman initially thought of This Is Us as a feature film that had more than double the number of siblings with the last name “Peasing” instead of “Pearson.” But since the start of the series, he has mapped out the journey of the Pearsons and he hasn’t altered the course much unless they have seen an opportunity to enhance a character’s arc — not change it. One example would be the role of Lyric Ross’ Deja. Fogelman said that they had the opportunity to adjust her story in a positive direction as it is one not traditionally told on television.

As for tonight’s episode, the cast didn’t want to give any spoilers considering it was only mere hours away from airing. For season three, the gang definitely didn’t any info to spill, but Fogelman said that they will continue the route of traveling back and forward into time — including exploring the origin story of Jack and Rebecca.