NCIS fans who tuned into This Is Us on Tuesday night heard an unexpected shoutout to the CBS procedural. Not only was it a reference to the series, but it was also a jab at it and its fans. Specifically, NCIS' ability to grab an older-skewing audience was bashed.
One of the first scenes of This Is Us Season 5, Episode 10 (entitled "I've Got This" and available to stream on Hulu) features the jab. The branch of the Pearson family led by Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is dealing with a guest who has overstayed her welcome: Randall's mother-in-law Carol Clarke (Phylicia Rashad). Carol and Randall's wife Beth (Susan Keluchi Watson) have had a tense relationship, and it's come to a boiling point during this latest visit, which has seen Carol extending her stay and infringing the couple's parenting tactics.
A result of Carol's impact on the family is this scene, which features Pearson daughters Déjà (Lyric Ross) and Annie (Faithe Herman) squabbling over control of the living room TV. Annie declares that she wants to watch NCIS. Déjà scoffs at the request, replying, "Annie, that's for old people."
The back-and-forth continues, with Annie revealing that Carol had gotten her into the cop drama, and that "Mark Harmon's a dreamboat." While that's a compliment to Harmon, the series lead that portrays team leader Leroy Jethro Gibbs, it soon turns backhanded as Déjà says, "A dreamboat? What are you, like, 65?" Carol then comes in a defuses the situation, fueling the continued conflict between her and the Pearson parents.
This plays into the long-running critique of NCIS, which is that while it draws massive TV ratings, a large chunk of that is outside the coveted demographic of adults 18-49. However, ironically enough, NCIS (which you can now stream on Paramount+) won the demographic battle on Tuesday night. Per The Hollywood Reporter, NCIS garnered a 0.86 rating in the aforementioned demographic, while This Is Us only pulled in a 0.84 rating. Overall, NCIS easily beat the acclaimed NBC show for the night, with close to 10 million viewers compared to 5 million viewers. (Note that all these stats are based on live numbers, with delayed viewings not included.)
While there's a back-and-forth about. the two shows, it's worth noting that they aren't directly competing with one another in the same time slot. NCIS, one of TV's biggest shows, airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, and This Is Us — an undeniable Tuesday night draw — airs on NBC at 9 p.m. ET. So lots of viewers likely watched both shows and likely even saw the jab.
As previously noted, you can stream both of these series right now. Every episode of NCIS is on the recently launched Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access). All This Is Us episodes are available on Hulu.