All Of Us: Season 1 – Review

All of Us: Season 1 - Review

All of Us: Season 1 – Review. By Christopher Patterson.

A Wholesome & Valuable Family Drama

Now and then, there is a time when a show comes that is simply great. It’s not changing the television game, and it’s not trying to be an HBO show. It is simply a cheerful and fun show to watch a day in the week. Nowadays, few shows like this exist, and when they do, they are often highly discussed. If a show is as small in scope as this one today, it is usually a mockumentary or generic sitcom, and less in this more fun sitcom style that All of Us beautifully indulges in. All of Us is a show about moving on from a failed relationship and finding new love, but also about having a child from that failed relationship and all the dilemmas that come from this particular but extremely down-to-earth situation. In other words, a strong premise. A nice aspect of this series is that it is undeniably typical sitcom in its humour but bounces thanks to its emotional and heartfelt maturity on the underlier, at points, or subject of the episode being love. Love and how it develops.



A nice flow of season one here is the progression of this new relationship with Robert and Tia and the relationship of Robert’s previous partner Nesse navigating raising their son Bobby. To say it before one notices, All of Us isn’t trying to be just a comedic version of a show like Once and Again (a more hyper-realistic drama around that time that is similar in concept), but instead a wholesome experience that families can enjoy that feels personal once you look under the details of many moments but can still be enjoyed otherwise as the fun and vibrant comedic sitcom it is. It is also not a Full House, a wholesome show that takes wholesomeness to the point of being manufactured. It has just enough bite. It can also hit both drama and comedy, and by the end of it, it will leave you with a long smile, wishing for a time that is somehow over twenty years ago.

An issue with the show Once and Again was the overall pace of it. Simply put, while Once and Again is quite sharp and solid, its pacing, at least in its initial season, could’ve used more consideration as it agonises on realism than making something ever enjoyable. Thankfully, All of Us excels in its quick and often poignant delivery of not just comedic timing but also writing. What separates All of Us from the usual sitcoms is not just its premise but also the clear care put into it all. It feels like a show from the bottom up, made with love and deep vulnerability, that leaps off so many scenes. What’s better is that All of Us feels uncontrollably creative with the many situations and one-liners it pulls off with such force and versatility that are quick-willed and undeniably compelling.

A difficult truth about marriage is that it can become comparable to the feeling of kissing in the dark. A chance of always missing. Yet, that is love. The chances. And even better, if it fails, you can start again.

What’s more, well, a great intro song will do. All of Us contains quite a nice, wholesome, catchy intro song that will make kids and parents sing along. “Cause it’s all of us, sometimes it can be rough, time, and seasons change but we will still remain.” (a quote from the awesome intro song)

True love. While we all may not receive it, it is a feeling we surely have all been made aware of thanks to the countless films and shows to remind us. The bond. The attachment. Sparks. Then marriage. Then kids. Then… the end? Well, what if it didn’t end? Life doesn’t. Then comes the horrifying word. Divorce. But you have kids. Yes, and… Now, All of Us have you covered. 

All of Us, in my eyes, can be seen as almost a prescription the doctor gives you in this situation. It is a show that gives real and true life advice, beautifully and wholesomely, regarding starting a new relationship while maintaining the care of your child from a marriage that failed. Describing the situation in words feels more direct than universal, but anyone can tell you it is not that uncommon. Simply put, love doesn’t always last, and that’s okay. 

A great aspect of All of Us is how it delivers its messages. Never does the show feel highly realistic or unrealistic, but rather a show that makes all the family laugh while telling mature themes that everyone watching will surely get and understand. Even better are the situations the characters are placed in. Throughout All of Us, we see dozens of dilemmas and situations that most people in these situations will have and give helpful and brilliant advice that feels pulled from the creators lives thanks to the realism and honesty put inside it.

An example of the true emotion and boundless joy presented is in the second episode, “Birthdaze.” Here, we see Bobby’s parents argue in the first half over who will be invited to the birthday party of Bobby before deciding to have it at Robert’s. The dilemma is over a mother and father splitting and inviting their new partners over to their kids birthday party, and the emotions and ethics almost to it from multiple understandable points of view. The mother, Neesse, doesn’t want to be replaced as his mother and has made that clear, but it is also an emotion, as the show shows here again in the second episode, that can’t be lost and a fear that most split parents live with, especially as we learn of Nesse’s life later on. Though this drama is treated with a more comedic style to line up with the sitcom nature brilliantly.

Then, at the party, Bobby tells Tia she can leave as his parents seem together now, getting along, then Bobby’s parents having to explain to him in an honest way their true situation while them themselves coming to terms with it. While one may see this as repetitive, repeating the dilemma of parents in a child’s life, it brilliantly finds different situations, as with life problems like this, especially in broken marriages, will continually occur. Its brilliance is found in its simplicity yet strong ability to make so much at the smallest of concepts through a sheer bite. It’s hard to retain universality while also giving individuality while having an educational and wholesome feel, since it can easily ruin itself by losing one of these like dominos, but thankfully, All of Us never loses sight in season one.

Or take the episode after “Here Comes the Bride,” which delves into seeing your partner’s previous marriage videos, which trigger that feeling of being inadequate and worthless as a sign of relishing the past and succumbing to thoughts rather than moving on. It’s an almost interesting dilemma that art and writing itself suffers from. Why make individual works that base themselves on the past point of view rather than doing everything new, or is it to do individuality through art by repeating it, making a waste of existence? Rambling words that everyone knows so as to not waste time, the message of the episode is to make the best of what you have now rather than worrying about then and tomorrow. Simply, getting on with life like everyone else.

Never does All of Us lose itself in the curse of the sitcom. At least, not in season one, which is the subject here. All of Us retains a focused and caring feel that feels more for educational and life purposes than making your average sitcom. In that, the show finds a beauty unforeseen in even the greatest of sitcoms. Nor does the show ever feel repetitive or dull, never repeating messages to keep its legs. And even better, the show never falls into the one curse a show tackling romance could. Being biased towards a relationship.

Biased. That is a curse All of Us magically steers away from. In relationship sitcoms, especially ones surrounding finding a new relationship, the writers could easily pick a side to each argument and feel judgmental, like writers whining about their own relationship and their points. Instead, All of Us feels like parents, making sure each side is understood and showing a level of appreciation and respect.

Even better, All of Us is quite fun and never boring in its educational areas. It may teach an observer how to care for a kid that is not your own without making their mother feel replaced, but it will also make you laugh out of your seat in getting there. 

The biggest standout, acting-wise, is how well the cast all bounce off each other. If I had to describe it, every cast member works like a chess piece that, if one is taken off, ruins the whole thing. Duane Martin is brilliantly funny when needed, but he is also able to switch to a more serious style of acting when the script calls for it. The two standouts out of the entire cast are Terri J. Vaughn as Jonelle and Elise Neal as Tia, who bring a level of comedic wit that will charm anyone considering giving this show a watch. They simply take over every scene they are in and demand a rewatch for their commanding presence. Though another great actress here is LisaRaye McCoy, who gives an emotional and vulnerable but also commanding and bold but also comedic and fun performance as Nessee and is, without doubt, the cast member here who has the most to juggle with her characters life and all she has to go through. McCoy brings a power to the performance that makes it truly graceful and a required watch for anyone wanting to be on television.

A surprising aspect of All of Us is the brilliant acting from the kid actor at the time, Khamani Griffin, who feels like a real child trying to navigate his life with the whirlwind of problems up above in his life with his parents relationships, communication, and lack thereof. 

The direction in every episode of All of Us’ first season is mostly general sitcom style, with nothing standing particularly out about it, but, in a way, that is the magic. It’s presenting a story about a failed relationship and the start of a new one that many can relate to, and presenting it in this normal and traditional sitcom manner that might help show people who may have never seen a relationship like this understand how normal and true it is for many. A standout area regarding the filming of All of Us is the beautiful sets this show has, which pop full of life in such a normal and beautiful way that it makes one wish to go back to this decade.

The progression of All of Us bases itself on the growing attachment between Bobby’s mom and his new parental figure in his life and his father’s new lover Tia and how they learn to almost have each other’s back. As the show goes on, they feel less like enemies and more like friends who have each other through thick and thin. It’s an almost beautiful thing to see and something you don’t see in most romantic shows or films then and now.

All of Us first episodes can be a bit crooked and rushed, but quickly settle in as the wholesome family sitcom it is. A great area for All of Us is its biting nature towards whatever it decides to tackle. Never does All of Us feel condescending in its message or themes, but rather simple and endlessly enjoyable. If I had to pick the issues with the initial episodes, though, they would be a simple case of trying to get a picture of how the show will work. Some of the acting feels a bit rushed, and the script can feel a bit out of place, but its heart is usually in the right place once the theme of the show becomes clear.

The one weak point throughout the show is one that hurts most comedic shows, which is always hitting the mark humour wise. In some episodes, All of Us can have jokes that are fine but never match up to the witty and endlessly creative ones that are, at their best, based on putting characters in specific situations and seeing how they react.

A feature for All of Us is how down to earth it feels. Never does the show throw big celebrity cameos in for the sake of it and rather feels relatable and coincident. Well, almost. There is one cameo, but, masterfully, All of Us handles it with grace and uses it casually and realistically in the characters’ world, and it works with the topic of the episode. Specifically, the episode is “Kindergarten Confidential,” where we see Beyoncé herself appear to help Robert with his interview with her, and in a way, this helps end off the episode with a smile. On the side, we see Tia and Nesse go head-to-head as Nesse causes drama with her relationship with Tia’s friend and her getting into Tia’s life.

These plots don’t truly come together in a traditional way where they meet head-to-head as with most episodes, since there are some adventures partners take while in a relationship that are somewhat separate and as mundane and simple as having trouble talking to someone (interviewing) and someone getting in the way of your friendship, but now they are taking place in the context of the All of Us plot, and it works masterfully like pieces in a puzzle. The main way this episode connects is how the interview Robert does ends with Robert deciding to go to his girlfriend thanks to Beyoncé’s advice which Robert and Tia watch, which helps end off the episode in a wholesome way (there is a comedic bit after at Bobby’s school but it is more of a little gag). All of Us, through all of this, has this realism of life matched with funny scenarios and bits to make for a fun and inspiring show to revisit.

Oddly, for such a positive season, All of Us doesn’t end on a banger but a literal and powerful whimper. But a good one. Curtains close. Love ends. Well, by the end of season one, at least. Marriage itself, as a concept, scares Tia so much that she ends up leaving Robert. Yet, as with most things, love lingers. So, will it last? This question helps the show to hit more dramatic topics that parents in these situations can relate to with bareness and with the right amount of comedy to truly hit it home. And it does it all brilliantly.

All of Us Season 1 retains possibly a feel of boldness to its safety and carefulness in writing, thanks to that bite edged in. Simply put, All of Us just slaps.

VERDICT

All of Us‘ first season is an impressive assortment of your usual early 2000s comedy drama mixed with a realistic and burning storyline that is maturely handled. If there was ever a show that could’ve stayed on for twenty seasons and never gotten old, it would be All of Us, since it is refined with age and endlessly and boundlessly creative in the relatable and smart situations the writers can put its characters in to examine the core concept that builds All of Us. All of Us is a show that any family looking for a show to watch or revisit should consider putting on, as it has just the right amount of everything you could ask for in a family sitcom plus more.

4.5/5 


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