Leslie's Bookcase

celebrating and recommending unforgettable books

Category: Literary cameos

“This is Us” & “Poem Counterpoem”

In the super popular, critically acclaimed, and award-winning NBC series “This is Us” Randall aka “Number 3” of the triplets is named after a poet.

We learned this namesake in Season 1, Episode 3: “Kyle” when we see William give Rebecca a copy of Poem Counterpoem by Dudley Randall. William says that Kyle/Randall’s birth mother read this poetry to him while in the womb. Rebecca then takes William’s suggestion to “give him his own name” and changes Number 3’s name from Kyle to Randall. “Maybe you’ll see fit to give it to him someday,” William says, and in fact later we see this book on Randall’s shelf.

I don’t watch a lot of TV because I am usually reading, so a show has to REALLY be worth my time. Obviously this show is. In fact, “This is Us” may be my favorite show ever…

And when I see a “literary cameo” in a show, I like to dig a little deeper to pay tribute to it – both the cameo and the show – and learn more myself.

So I decided to investigate Dudley Randall, Poem Counterpoem, and the lines of his poetry quoted in Episode 7 “Best Washing Machine in the World” when Beth (Randall’s wife) and William (Randall’s birth father) gaze up at the stars after eating pot brownies (did I mention I love this show??).

RELATED POST: HBO’S THE NIGHT OF – WHEN TV & LITERATURE COLLIDE

What I found out about this “literary cameo” surprised me!

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When literature and TV collide

Literary cameos in HBO’s “The Night Of”

“Survival in here is all about your alliances….Those husky dogs knew that.” – Freddy from HBO’s popular new series  “The Night Of” in reference to Jack London’s Call of the Wild

I get really excited when I see references to literature (or intertextuality) usefully inserted into an already great story line – it makes me pause, rewind, quote, and blog. So here goes:

If you are not watching HBO’s new drama “The Night Of” I STRONGLY recommend it  (no serious spoilers here). 

I want to reflect on a scene from episode 4 that offers some fascinating literary cameos when Naz, a soft-spoken university student who is in prison awaiting a trial for murder, meets with Freddy, a smooth, smart, and powerful longtime inmate who is essentially running the prison.

First, Freddie “educates” Naz on the “two most popular books in the prison library.”

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