Your Weekly Cry-Fest Over 'This Is Us' Has Surprising Health Benefits
Research shows people really do feel better after crying about what they see on TV.
The This Is Us cast wants to apologize for making you cry every week.
In a hilarious PSA-style clip by Entertainment Weekly, Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, and other cast members say they're sorry for the emotional rollercoaster they've been putting you on week after week.
This video was originally published back in October, around the time when This Is Us premiered on NBC. But it's picking up steam now, perhaps because—spoiler alert!—a week after watching Randall endure a panic attack, the show delivered its most emotional episode yet with the devastating death of Randall's biological father, William.
Some may wonder why it's so appealing to watch a TV show that consistently brings you to tears, but science actually has your back. Research shows that becoming attached to your favorite characters can actually be healthy.
Crying over sad TV is a modern example of the paradox of tragedy, which philosophers have been writing about for thousands of years. “Sadness is a negative emotion that we don’t enjoy feeling, and tragic fiction makes us sad,” said Jennifer Barnes, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oklahoma, in an interview with TIME. “And yet, somehow we seem to enjoy tragic fiction.” One theory is that tragic fiction provides catharsis, and some research shows that some people really do feel better after a good cry.
In her interview with TIME, Barnes goes on to explain that her own research suggests that watching TV dramas can improve emotional intelligence, or your ability to read the thoughts and feelings of other people. (She conducted her research using an episode of The Good Wife.) That's not all: additional research shows that watching TV shows that depict a lot of emotion and compassion (hello, This Is Us!) can actually make you a kinder, more altruistic person.
All that said, if you feel emotionally wrecked for more than a couple hours after finishing an episode, you might care a little too much. “If you’re feeling sad about it several days or weeks afterward and it’s causing real-world distress, that might be a sign that you’re perhaps too invested in what’s going on,” Barnes told TIME.
Otherwise, your weekly sob sessions aren't bad for you—and might even make you a nicer person. Pass the tissues!