Mandy Moore Monday: This Is Us

Have you guys heard about This Is Us? It’s like, really good.

But you already know that. Or someone has told you it’s really good. And today, I’m going to not only tell you about how good the show is, but how spectacular Mandy Moore is as the family matriarch. Why? Because it’s Mandy Moore Monday, of course!

A while back I kicked off the Mandy Moore Monday series, and by series, I mean this is only the second installment (did you miss my revisit to her severely underrated album Coverage?!). So why not shine a light on Mandy’s most recent star turn as Rebecca Pearson in this past TV season’s hit drama? Plus in full disclosure, we’re in the middle of Emmy nominations voting, so I figure we could at least give Mandy a little push for a nomination.

I think that it was easy for critics to brush Mandy off as not as serious actress back when she was younger, due to the whole pop star/Candy-ness of it all. I thought she was fantastic in A Walk To Remember, but that’s just a “movie for teenagers”. She got some street cred as a bitchy Christian school girl in Saved!, and perhaps the most successful film (and the one that’s gotten her the most residuals) is Tangled, and that just featured her voice. But with her first major TV drama (besides a fantastic/heartbreaking arc on Grey’s Anatomy), Mandy’s finally getting to show off her legit acting chops, and I could not be more proud. In This Is Us, she’s been able to prove she’s a dynamic actor, one who can let us watch Rebecca start off as a young woman not interested in kids, to a devoted mother, to a wife who wants to see what life would be like if she chased her dreams, to a widow just trying to stay connected with her kids.

Here are just a few reasons why Mandy Moore  should not only be praised on this MMM (Mandy Moore Monday), but hopefully come Emmy time, too.

When She Looked Good In Every Decade

Aging a young person isn’t easy, and if done wrong, it can look unbelievable. Perhaps most importantly, bad makeup takes the viewer out of the fictional world and into reality & endless criticism (def not talking about you, Deathly Hallows). Moreover, This Is Us requires a lot of emotional scenes, so if she’s put in makeup that doesn’t allow her to show every face acting emotion, it’s a maj fail. But Mandy’s makeup artist Zoe Hays made sure the goal wasn’t for Rebecca to just look old, but for her to simply look 30 years older. Helen Mirren, 71, served as Zoe’s inspiration for Rebecca’s sixty-something look, since she’s a “sexy, mature woman and there’s never any doubt that she exudes that.” And together with Zoe, Mandy has done an excellent job in acting as Rebecca in her 30s, 40s, 50s & 60s, something that only a classic beauty and talented actress can pull off.

When She Finally Got To Sing

As someone who greatly enjoys Mandy’s voice and music career, obviously I was waiting for the writers to incorporate her singing into the show. And they did it in a smart way, by having Rebecca be an aspiring singer when she’s younger, but have put those dreams aside once the triplets come along. Of course, Mandy hits it out of the park when she takes the mic, and it means even more in the story when we find out that her voice is literally what brings her and Jack together in the first place.

When She Had Romantic Scenes With Milo

Ross and Rachel. Jim and Pam. Luke and Lorelai. Jack and Rebecca. These two will go down in TV history as one of the most beloved yet complex couples ever. And that has a lot to do with Mandy and Milo’s chemistry. When they were first announced as the co-stars in this show, I thought it was a no-brainer – so much so that I thought that they surely must’ve worked together before. Nope. In my head, it was Jess Mariano married to Jamie Sullivan and somehow that works. You can tell just by watching them in every scene that there’s an ease to their back-and-forth, and it particularly shows in their romantic scenes. There’s a real love there, not just Jack and Rebecca, but a mutual love and respect between Milo and Mandy that makes it so enjoyable to watch.

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I stand in awe of this friend of mine. He is the ultimate partner in crime and he absolutely knocked it out of the park on every level in last night's finale. I am the luckiest. Can't believe we have 18 behind us and atleast 36 ahead, Mi. Wow. And for those somehow frustrated with the finale not revealing how Jack passed, I would encourage patience. Otherwise you might be watching the wrong show. Last night was fundamental to the bigger picture. The story deviated and ultimately landed on (I think) a more compelling question… what was the state of this relationship in the end? And as Milo so eloquently stated, let's focus on how the man lived! Stay tuned cause it's all leading somewhere and we're just getting started.

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When She Had Not-So-Romantic Scenes With Milo

And that chemistry works just as well when we see Jack and Rebecca hit their rough patch in the later years. I’m no actress, but I imagine the best comes out when you wholeheartedly trust your acting partner. Mandy and Milo not only have this connection as friends IRL, but they each have a personal relationship with their fictional personas. So in combining those two factors, you’re left with two humans who aren’t afraid to go all out and lay it all on the table in these heated scenes, adding that extra level of realness that can sometimes feel like we’re intruding on this couple’s intense arguments.

When She And Milo Made-Up

Back to the romantic thing because, honestly? OTP: I’m gonna be a 12 for you baby. #IShipJabecca

When She Had To Cry In Prosthetics

The situation Rebecca knowingly but herself in is a tricky one, and I feel like there’s no “right” way to go about telling your adopted son about his drugged out father. In this confrontation scene, Mandy has an excellent scene partner in Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown, but it’s Mandy’s silent remorse realization she may have fucked up big time is what is the most impressive.

When Her Acting Partner Was A Fake Pregnant Stomach

Having a one-sided conversation with three babies is normal for pregnant women, but having a one-sided conversation with a large, prosthetic belly is a whole other thing. Mandy killed this monologue as a loving, regretful, hopeful, uncertain mom-to-be, who promised to do right by her kids. It’s not easy to convey all those different feelings in one monologue, but she delivers it in a subtle and moving way that as a viewer you can relate to, no matter if you’re a parent or not.

When She Was A Queen This Entire Episode

If she’s nominated, this better be the episode they submit. But in the meantime, just watch this again. The walk to the corner store though!

Mandy Moore Monday: Coverage

Is the person who created #ThrowbackThursday profiting from all the social media posts? Do we even know who started it? Well remember this post because I’m about to start a new hashtag in honor of America’s underrated sweetheart – Mandy Moore.

Welcome to Mandy Moore Monday, in which I heap praise upon a woman who has graced us with her talents for years. And now, she’s gracing us with her talents every Tuesday with the breakout hit This Is Us – a series that has reached the type of success that has been years in the making.

For a little backstory, Mandy hasn’t had the best of luck with pilots over the past few years. One original project with ABC fell through, another CBS legal drama (alongside Ben McKenzie/Ryan Atwood, making your 2000s shipper hearts go into full bloom) failed to get picked up, and she even signed on for an adaptation of British TV series called Pulling, but she and the producers came to a mutual decision for her to leave the show. And do you remember Red Band Society? She wasn’t even a regular and it still got cancelled. Needless to say, she needed This Is Us. Not only because she needed a win, but because WE needed a win. We NEED Mandy Moore back in our lives. Get ready folks – IT’S TIME FOR THE MANDYISSANCE.

After you catch up with This Is Us and want MOORE Mandy, how about throwin’ it back to a past project of hers you might have missed – her 2003 album Coverage. This was post-Candy and even post-In My Pocket, and the first record that was a 180 from her pop songs and strictly an album of cover songs from the 1970s and 1980s. I admit I was one of those teens who hadn’t even heard any of these tunes until she covered them and legitimately expanding music knowledge to a whole new generation.

So for the first installment of Mandy Moore Monday, I present to you a collection of my five favorite tracks from the Coverage album. And you can listen to the entire album on Spotify!

The Whole of the Moon

As previously mentioned, there are some songs on the album I’d only heard for the first time through Mandy’s angelic voice, and The Whole of the Moon immediately became one of my favorites. The original 1985 version is by a British/Irish group called The Waterboys (whose lead singer’s name is Mike Scott?) and is considered one of their best-known songs. But you know who’s never heard the OG song before? A majority of teens v into pop music who didn’t know what they were getting into when Mandy released a follow up to In My Pocket. But that’s part of the brilliance of this album. For those who didn’t know the original songs, a track like The Whole of the Moon is just a new Mandy Moore song which she sings beautifully and with grace. And for those looking for a history lesson, they can go back and listen to the The Waterboys’ version and get educated on early rock. Either way, it’s a win-win.

Can We Still Be Friends

I’m going to be honest with you – a majority of these songs I still haven’t heard the original version of because I have no interest. Mandy Moore is good enough for me. It’s also because I’m not keen on the 70s/80s rock sound, so hearing these classics through a singer whose music I enjoy is truly a gift. This song was originally done by Todd Rundgren, whose name sounds vaguely familiar but is also one of those white male rocker names that could’ve been featured in SNL’s Blue Oyster Cult band. As for the song itself, it’s got a chill vibe to it, but towards the end she goes into a bit of a belt. But not Idina Menzel belt, the kind of belt that I love so much about Mandy’s voice – it’s not forced but strong enough to get the point across and still sound powerful.

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

Sir Elton John made this tune a classic back in 1972, and Mandy does the music icon justice with her own version of Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters. I think this song is the perfect example of where her voice sits naturally, in which she’s not trying too hard, but giving it just the right amount of emotion to feel just right.  A Goldilocks of a song, if you will.

Drop the Pilot

I admittedly haven’t listened to the Coverage album in its entirety in a few years, but when I listened to this song for the first time in a while, it just got me so pumped and inspired me to play Mandy Moore tracks for the rest of the day. Drop the Pilot, originally done by Joan Armatrading, is just a fun, upbeat track, and I couldn’t even tell you what it’s about, but that’s secondary to the music itself. ALSO.

FACT: I had never seen this music video before.

FACT: This video was shot in our hometown of Rochester, New York! WHILE WE WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL, YET I HAVE NO RECOLLECTION OF THIS HAPPENING. Apparently, the video was made as a demo for Kodak’s “Vision2 500T series motion picture film” and they used it to promote the product.

FACT: Kodak’s headquarters are located in Rochester. It’s one of our *things*. You can even visit the house of George Eastman, the founder of Kodak.

BONUS: AOL Live Session that is a time machine back to EXACTLY 13 YEARS AGO ON OCTOBER 3RD, 2003!

Have a Little Faith in Me

Ok, besides Candy and In My Pocket, this cover of John Hiatt’s Have a Little Faith in Me is probably one of Mandy’s greatest hits. Mandy’s always had a bit of an ethereal quality in her voice, which is perfect for a song whose lyrics inspire encouragement and trust from a loved one. Well, you got me Mandy. You got me.