As networks try to determine the precise formula that allowed the This Is Us trailer to rack up a staggering number of views, we want to make one thing very clear: It’s not the sappy set-up, it’s not the show’s universal message, and it’s not the folksy music. It’s 100 percent Jess Mariano’s butt.
The trailer for the upcoming NBC show—which looks like a genre-free Sense8 but with more white people—begins with a brief shot of the exposed posterior of Gilmore Girls’ erstwhile bad boy Jess Mariano, a.k.a. Milo Ventimiglia. We’re guessing that’s all people needed to keep them watching long enough to realize he’s married to a very pregnant Mandy Moore. That, in turn, confused them until they’d inadvertently watched the whole thing and shared it with five friends.
Deadline has been obsessively tracking the trailer’s view count since May 17, and this is the site’s fourth update on the matter. The views were first deemed newsworthy when the trailer hit 15 million Facebook views in 48 hours, shattering Legends Of Tomorrow’s record of 4.1 million views. It’s now crossed the 50 million view mark on Facebook and has over 6 million views on YouTube as well. All told, Deadline speculates the trailer has roughly 70 to 80 million views across all platforms.
Of course, to count as a Facebook “view,” someone only needs to watch the video for three seconds (on YouTube it’s 30 seconds). But while the Facebook count may be exaggerating how many people have actually actively watched the trailer, that still doesn’t fully account for its success. After all, the second most popular upcoming TV show trailer is for the Prison Break event series, and it earned only 22 million Facebook views, probably because it featured zero shots of Jess Mariano’s butt.
In trying to analyze the trailer’s success, Deadline points out that This Is Us has “no title people would recognize or a big star at the center,” which is frankly insulting not only to Gilmore Girls fans but more so to Mandy Moore, who is legitimately pretty famous. Plus This Is Us is the subtitle of a One Direction documentary, so it does technically have some name recognition, just of a completely erroneous kind.
Meanwhile, MTV launched its own investigation into why the trailer is so popular, including a frame-by-frame break down. It’s clear, however, there was only one frame they needed to include: