Why This Is Us Fans Shouldn't Be Too Bummed About The Show's Hiatus During Winter Olympics

Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson.
(Image credit: NBC)

This Is Us fans are in the midst of an emotional roller coaster as the series time-jumps its way to its final episodes. The writers and actors are as hot as ever, with the last two episodes featuring some MVP-caliber performances but were so heartbreaking I was left sobbing long after the episodes ended, and that’s not an exaggeration. Just as we’re getting back into our Tuesday night groove, This Is Us is going on a three-week hiatus for the Winter Olympics, and although that’s not welcome news to the fans, there's a reason we really shouldn’t be too upset about it.

The Winter Olympics kicked off this week in Beijing, with the Opening Ceremony on February 4, and some of TV’s biggest shows — including Chicago Fire and Law & Order: SVU — will be affected by the schedule change. This Is Us fans, however, aren’t really missing out, Steve Kern, head of scheduling for NBC, explained to Variety, because new episodes wouldn’t have aired on those dates regardless. 

We don’t love having it off for two weeks [during the Olympics], but those two weeks would have been repeats or preempts anyway, because there’s 18 episodes and 21 weeks. And so it actually helps us. We think for the last season it’s a much better viewing experience for the fans to know every week that the show is on, that it’s going to be an original episode.

So regardless of the interruptions, there were only going to be 18 episodes in This Is Us’ final chapter anyway. Having to break for the Olympics won’t deprive the fans of episodes we would have gotten otherwise. A “better viewing experience” is probably subjective, because I’m sure there are people who would have preferred a This Is Us rerun to the content pre-empting it, but the point is really that we’re getting every last bit of Pearson love that was planned for us.

In fact, this break and one more have been in the plan since NBC scheduled the hit drama to premiere in January. They knew the show would have to work around not just the Olympics but the State of the Union on March 1 as well, Steve Kern said.

When we made the decision to hold ‘This Is Us’ for January, we knew it was going to have to come off for not only the two weeks of the Olympics, but also for a third week because ‘The State of the Union’ is usually on a Tuesday. So we knew going in that was part of the plan. And for ‘This Is Us,’ we felt like the best way for the fans was basically to have all 18 original episodes over 21 weeks. So we planned in the two preemptions for the Olympics and the one preemption for ‘The State of the Union’ when we came up with this plan.

It brings me comfort that this hiatus was in the plans from the beginning, and the final chapter will be able to fulfill creator Dan Fogelman’s hopes for the series’ last episodes. Season 5 seemed to be all over the place, with multiple two- and three-week breaks and one unexpected seven-week hiatus. Taking that into consideration, on top of knowing there weren’t new episodes planned for those weeks anyway, the next few weeks should be easier to get through.

This Is Us will return at 9 p.m. ET, Tuesday, February 22, on NBC. In the meantime, check out how you can watch the 2022 Winter Olympics, and take a look at our 2022 TV Schedule to see what shows are premiering soon. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.