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Mandy Moore Defends the Use of the N-Word on This Is Us

Allie Gemmill is an avid writer, cinephile, Ravenclaw, and pizza enthusiast. She regularly writes on film and television with a special focus on women’s involvement & influence in Hollywood. Additionally, she has bylines at Bustle, Keyfr...

There's a good reason This Is Us used this loaded word

Mandy Moore is coming out with a strong This Is Us opinion, so buckle up. Actually, it's a pretty logical and reasonable opinion, so it matters that we pay attention to it even more. Earlier this week, Moore defended This Is Us' use of the N-word on its most recent episode, "The Most Disappointed Man."

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There's a moment in the episode when Rebecca and Jack go to see the black male judge presiding over their adoption case for Randall. What should have been a quick and easy confirmation that Randall was legally their child becomes a subtle teaching moment about racial dynamics in the nuclear family.

After the judge delayed their case, Rebecca and Jack request a meeting; they need to know why. In said meeting, the judge proceeds to explain to this young white couple that he believes Randall needs to be raised by black parents, parents who can teach him what it means to be a black man and prepare him for critical moments in his life, like when a white person will inevitably call him the N-word. In this moment, the judge says the actual N-word — a highly unusual (but not unprecedented, especially for NBC) narrative choice for a primetime network show.

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While it's easy to see how initial reactions to the use of the full, harsh N-word might have initially shocked viewers, Moore took the time to explain why it was necessary to include the word and why it matters on This Is Us.

"You're talking about 1980 — that was more, unfortunately, part of the vernacular then," she told Extra. "It wasn't scripted. That was something he chose as an actor to say and the first time he said it I think Milo and I were both like… we didn't know it was going there.” It's interesting to note that both her reaction and costar Milo Ventimiglia's reaction to hearing guest star Delroy Lindo (who plays the judge) seemed to be genuine. Moore confirming this moment was ad-libbed somehow deepens the impact of the moment even further.

Fans appeared to feel similarly to Moore when "The Most Disappointed Man" aired on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Many immediately took to Twitter to discuss their feelings about the use of the N-word, with some remarking just how important it was that this loaded word was said.

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It's understandable that Moore would defend the use of the N-word on This Is Us for myriad reasons. Her explanation scans with the themes and direction of the show, and furthermore, this show has proven it's not afraid to tackle tough topics like racial politics. That the show and the network responsible, NBC, kept the word in the final cut of the episode means there's a desire to continue that kind of conversation with the fans.

Well said, Moore. Well said.

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