Major Spoilers ahead on the show “This is Us”. If you have any interest in watching this show, turn back now!
If you haven’t seen it… The show itself will make you chuckle, but it’s serious drama. Yet it’s not drama for the sake of drama. It touches on issues that many of us face. It brings light to the everyday, mundane moments that families go through and shows us that it’s sometimes the little moments we remember best. It centers on family, and it’s about people who may seem fine, but nobody’s really got it all together. The way they come together as a family and can be their best selves (or forgive each other when they aren’t being their best selves)….this is how we are supposed to relate to each other in real life. No matter how long you go in between seeing your family, you can pick up right where you left off. This show will make you feel things.
I remember watching the first episode of “This Is Us” when it aired in September of 2016. It revolved around 4 characters all turning the same age.
I watched three of the characters all celebrate their 36th birthdays. Each character was so different. A black man named Randall who seemed to have it all together, a white actor named Kevin who didn’t, and a morbidly obese woman named Kate who was depressed but wanted to make changes in her life. There was also a character named Jack Pearson who was turning 36 the same day his wife Rebecca was expected to go into labor with triplets.
Randall decides that now was the time to confront his birth father, who had abandoned him at a fire station. Kevin quits his show “the Manny” in the middle of filming. And Kate befriends a man named Toby at a support group for overweight people. Rebecca struggles through her labor.
Sadly, one of the babies doesn’t make it, Kyle. Jack is distraught and seeks the guidance of the doctor. Jack finds out there is a baby that was just abandoned and was there at the hospital. In fact this little black baby was lying next to his son and daughter. Jack and Rebecca decide to adopt this boy.
And it was then, when another character stood next to Jack and lit a cigarette in the neonatal unit of a hospital, that I finally figured out that this story line of Jack and Rebecca didn’t take place in the present day. This was 1980.
This was baby Kevin, Kate and Randall – later known as “the big three”.
I was so surprised at this turn of events and so touched by the story itself, that I was hooked.
I love this show, and I’ve never missed an episode.
What is it about “This Is Us” that keeps me tuning in every week? To be honest I don’t even know what caused me to turn it on in the first place. I’m a Netflix girl, I don’t watch NBC. I don’t know how I even saw the commercial for the pilot. There was a wholesomeness that I sensed from the commercial that had me curious. Some vibe that interested me.
I think the best way to understand why I love this show is to go through the main characters and their story and traits.
“I love you as much as a human heart can love”
Jack’s children and wife think of him as a superhero. He’s hard working, wise, and loves his family fiercely. He’s a hopeless romantic toward his wife and a fun loving father with his kids. Not to mention he’s quite handsome and charming.
But that’s not why I like him.
If this was all there was to this character, he would be boring. He would be too perfect.
Jack is also very damaged. He has PTSD from his time in Vietnam, a war that he never talks about. He even has a brother he has fallen out of touch with on purpose. He’s so loyal to his loved ones that one wonders how he could quit on his brother. But he does. His kids don’t even know they have an uncle until later in the series.
He has a drinking problem. He almost loses his marriage over this.
There are also little things. Doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing. Like how he told his black son “I don’t see color when I see you”.
Jack doesn’t always make wise choices. The biggest mistake was when the house caught on fire and instead of getting himself out of the house while his family looked on, he stopped to make sure he grabbed sentimental items like his wife’s necklace. He saves his daughter’s dog too.
This is what kills him, the smoke inhalation he suffers from his time in the house (on top of a medical condition he has always had with his heart). Let me tell you, when I watched the episode where they finally tell us how Jack dies, I cried. Oh Jack you big dummy, why didn’t you save yourself?
So there it is. Jack is flawed, with a tragic story. But he’s still likable, and I’m genuinely sad that he had to die. His story definitely holds my interest. Not to mention…I never leave my crock pot plugged in when I’m not using it now.
“When you’re a mom, you get a front row seat to the best show in town; watching your kids grow up.”
Rebecca is another character that at first glance is perfect, but as I got to know this character I actually related to her more than any other.
She’s beautiful, she sings well, she maintains a gorgeous figure after having triplets. But that’s not how I relate to her, no. She’s a mom of three who struggles in all the ways a mother will struggle.
I’m a mom of three. I understand what it’s like to feel like I’m juggling everything. Not just the house, but each child has his own problems. Each child is talented in their own way and as a mom, you want to nurture that. In my case, since my kids are different ages, I’m trying to make sure I’m being fair to each child in regards to their maturity level; I can’t treat them all the same or discipline them all the same.
Her biggest challenge might be how she parents Kate. Kate struggles with her weight from a young age and must live with a mom who wears a size 4. Rebecca and Kate butt heads starting in the teenage years onward. Sometimes Rebecca tries too hard, or she misses the mark, but she still tries to be the best mom she can for Kate.
Rebecca’s story becomes even more riveting when, I hate to say it, she becomes a widow. She’s living in a dark time of her life and trying to survive it, all the while trying to look out for her teenage kids and their problems. And they have many. Rebecca has to put aside her feelings.
As Rebecca ages into an older woman, and a grandmother, we see that she made a giant mistake with her son Randall. He finds out when he’s 36 that she knew Randall’s birth father (from the time Randall was small). She never told him, or anyone. Again, she thought she was doing the right thing but it was a very poor choice. She’s far from perfect.
Rebecca is now in the early stages of something like dementia or Alzheimer’s. It’s tragic but she’s continuing to be brave and be a good mother and grandmother under the circumstances. The kids always come first.
So, she’s another character that I like, not for the way she does so many things well, but for the way she makes mistakes while trying her best. And because we’re both moms of three.
“when big things end, it’s hard not to imagine how they started.”
I’ll be honest, Kevin’s storyline is my least favorite, but even so, it’s a train wreck that can be interesting to watch.
He’s kind of shallow, makes poor choices without thinking anything through, and he’s self-centered. But…. he’s loyal to his family, and he’s actually very kind.
In recent episodes, he has located his long-lost uncle Nicky. Not only that but he’s in the process of getting Nicky back on his feet.
Everything Kevin does is a grand gesture. He married his wife just out of high school in New York City, and they eloped. (later divorced).
He quits his job on a successful sitcom “The Manny” by making a big speech in the middle of filming and storms off the stage.
He buys an RV to move next to his Uncle Nicky’s RV to keep a close eye on him. He’s a character witness in Nicky’s trial.
Kevin is not my favorite character but I appreciate what he brings to the show. In fact, it’s from Kevin we get the title of the show. At one point early on he completes a painting and talks about how the painting represented all of them as a family. “This is us”, he says.
“Everyone sees their childhood with different lenses”
Randall is the perfectionist of the Big Three. Everything he does, he puts in 110% of the effort needed. On the surface he’s a successful, well off, City councilman of Philadelphia. He has a charming and beauteous wife who owns a dance studio, and three daughters.
Out of the three growing up, he tried the hardest. He went to a private school while his siblings remained in public school. He went straight to college, where he met Beth, his future wife.
But while he grew up, he always felt the odd one out, being the only black member of his family. He kept a tally of black people he knew. He tried and failed to find out who his birth father was, after hearing stories of being dropped off at a fire house. Once he was grown, he finally found his father, but found out shortly after this that his father was dying of cancer.
His daughters on the surface seem to be growing up without many problems, but his oldest daughter Deja is actually a girl the family fostered and then adopted. It took years for her to get over some of the trauma she had been through. Later Deja falls for a teenage guy who happens to have a baby daughter.
His oldest birth daughter comes out as gay to her parents, further complicating parenthood for Randall and Beth.
So far, the youngest daughter is drama free, but we’ll see.
Randall himself has issues that people wouldn’t see on the surface. He has a pretty severe anxiety disorder. He has worked himself into going temporarily blind, and has had many panic attacks. One was so severe it was more like a meltdown, where he fell to the ground and cried helplessly.
Randall Pearson and his family could have their own show, if I’m honest. I really enjoy watching this family grow and maybe they will have a spin-off some day.
“It’s been my story ever since I was a little girl.”
The Pearson family is very fit. Jack, Rebecca, Kevin and Randall….they all look like they only drink green smoothies and live at the gym.
Then there’s Kate. She’s very pretty and has a lovely singing voice, and she’s funny and interesting….but it’s overshadowed by her weight. From the way she’s treated growing up, to embarrassing moments as an adult (for example, not being able to sit in a booth at a restaurant) her weight is her biggest struggle.
What must it be like to be part of the Pearson family full of conventionally beautiful and slim people? Fortunately, the family treats her quite well. She gets nothing but support from them. Her mom might be a bit overbearing, but all in all, Kate is loved.
She struggled with her weight starting very young. As a teenager however, she was on her way to being in shape. But once her dad died, her favorite person in the world…she went back to over-eating. She spiraled into depression and her weight became out of her control.
When we first meet her, she’s weighing herself. She meets her husband at an overeaters anonymous meeting. After she gets married and becomes pregnant, she miscarries and blames it on her weight. She goes through IVF and becomes pregnant again, only to find out her son is blind. She wonders if it’s her fault. Her husband loses weight and she compares herself to him. Her weight overshadows everything.
I’ve heard many people say that they find her character annoying, because she’s self-centered. She might be, but I understand the reasons why. She is constantly struggling to be something – not just a thin person, but a whole person. There are things we don’t even know about her past. We are led to believe she has a darker history than her family members. She’s really come a long way. For this reason I think her story is quite captivating.
So, I’ve only touched on five characters. There are many more, and we aren’t even done with season 4 yet. If you are a fan of the show, talk to me about it in the comments! Who’s your favorite character? Least favorite? Does this show make you cry?