Last week I emailed NBC to thank them for this season’s new characters who portray a Marine veteran and her family on “This Is Us.” I felt like the writers really captured what it’s like to be a military family.
From the anxiety written on the faces of both Cassidy, the service member, and her husband, Ryan, to the air of celebration that you’re supposed to feel on Homecoming day. The scene was on point.
As the story continues to unfold I have been impressed with the interactions of the Cassidy and Ryan. Reintegration post a combat deployment is no joke and it felt like the writers stood in my kitchen watching our real life drama unfold.
In another scene Ryan laments that he has trouble going to events where Cassidy’s service is the star of the show, because he believes the Marine Corps is what changed his wife into a person who is unrecognizable. I could see on his face just how torn up he was about holding that tension. Knowing that his wife is a Marine, yet not knowing where to place the blame for the change in her demeanor. It’s a hard spot to live in.
Week after week I have continued to be impressed with how the show gets into the nitty gritty of life post combat deployment.
Until this week.
Cassidy is upset and tells her friend, Kevin, that she saw her husband and it didn’t go well. That her husband got critical and she got defensive. It’s no more than a couple lines.
But it only showed Cassidy’s side of the story. Logically, I get it. It’s a television program and by the end of the episode, (SPOILER ALERT), she’s sleeping with one of the show’s main characters. So the story line is hers.
But there’s always another side to every story.
Chances are Ryan’s “critical” words were laced with worry. Chances are what appeared to be critical was simply a spouse sharing concern about the changes he sees in the person he loves the most. Chances are the “criticism” was an attempt to provide help to his wife.
Chances are, he wasn’t critical at all.
More than likely he is scared. Scared that the person he loves most is gone forever due the things she saw and did in place he will never have to go.
Those were my thoughts as I listened to those few short lines about critical words and defensive responses. And I wished they were onscreen. So much.
Because though I don’t have a crystal ball to see how the rest of the season plays out, I do know that the writers have done a great job of setting up the start of a relationship between Kevin and Cassidy.
And a relationship for them means no relationship for Cassidy and Ryan, her husband.
Her husband, the one who paid the bills, took their son to school, to ball practice, to the doctor, the one who sent care packages and lay in bed at night praying his wife would return home safely…the one who really knows her.
In one short exchange of words, Ryan is diminished to a critical husband who doesn’t understand his spouse and Kevin is seen as an understanding confidant.
Kevin said the things that sounded good and affirming. But Kevin has no idea of the love and devotion that was behind Ryan’s “critical” words.
I am Ryan. And those “critical” words have been mine. And for all the applause that comes my way at military events or all the thank yous I receive when I show my military ID, I was just reduced to being the critical spouse at home.
And the truth is I’m so much more. We, as a group, are so much more.