Looking back on what made ‘This is Us’ so beloved 


Joe Pugliese | NBC Insider press release

Fahim Khan

“I’d like to think, maybe one day you’ll be an old man like me, talking a younger man’s ear off, explaining to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer, and turned it into something resembling Lemonade,” Dr. Katowski said to Jack Pearson in the pilot episode of NBC’s hit show, “This is Us,” when Jack and Rebecca lost the third baby of their expected triplets.

It would be the first of many heartbreaking, emotional but, at the same time, warm and comforting moments that the show would provide, as audiences followed the lives of the Pearson Family.

With a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the show has millions of fans who have grown attached to these characters and their stories. Now in its sixth and final season, it is undeniable that this show is beloved and creates a unique feel when compared to other TV shows.

Let’s look at what made this show so beloved and unique.

The Concept

Ultimately, the show is about the Pearson family, although there are other important characters who aren’t Pearsons by blood or adoption. The family consists of Rebecca and Jack, along with their children Kate, Kevin and Randall, whom they adopted. The show creatively follows them as they go through the many trials and tribulations life has to offer

While the present-day storylines of the show follow a linear sequence, the past, along with a few future storylines, follow a non-linear sequence through flashbacks and flash forwards. Overall, the format of the show helps viewers understand how the characters got to where they are while driving home the message that someone’s past has a huge impact on who they are today.

Jack is Dead

It is very difficult to see anyone other than actor Milo Ventimiglia play Jack Pearson, who may be one of television’s most iconic dads. Jack is a loyal husband and a devoted father who is there for his family no matter what. Jack is the one who pushes for children and when the third  child dies, it is Jack who convinces his wife Rebecca to adopt Randall.

Jack, like most people, had struggles like financial instability and alcoholism and he tries his best not to let them negatively affect his family. Viewers learn that Jack fought in the Vietnam War, which also leads to some mental health problems.

Although he is one of the show’s biggest characters, it is obvious from episode one that Jack is not alive in the present. Fans don’t learn how he died until later. The impact of his early death, along with the legacy he leaves behind, has a deep impact on the Pearsons’ lives as they go on without him.

After Jack’s death, Rebecca does her best to hold the family together and Randall takes on the role of the responsible male figure of the family. Kate often struggles with the guilt of playing a part in her father’s death and Kevin fights the guilt of not being there for his father’s last living moments. Overall, Jack’s death moves the plot forward and helps create some of the show’s most memorable moments.

Heavy Topics

The show is surely not for the soft-hearted, despite it coming off that way sometimes. This is especially true for Randall’s character, who struggles with the identity of being a Black man raised by a white family.

Although the Pearsons do their very best to make Randall feel like he is one of their own, issues about race and adoption often come up in his story.

Kate struggles with her weight throughout her life, making her feel like she could never have the things she desires such as a family or a good career. Kevin struggles with depression and, like his father, alcoholism. Rebecca has Alzheimer’s and is slowly losing her memory.

The show does not shy away from heavy topics, but through great writing, the show creates a safe space to talk about these issues.

Character Arcs and Saying Final Goodbyes

The show does a good job of creating great character arcs, as viewers have watched the siblings overcome the many challenges life throws at them and become mature adults. They prosper in their careers, but they learn to prioritize what is important. Rebecca learns to let others take care of her, as she gets older and deals with Alzheimer’s.

Side characters are also given importance and highlighted in certain episodes, such as Jack’s best friend Miguel, Randall’s wife Beth or Toby, Kate’s husband. Viewers can see things from their perspective and understand the pivotal roles that they play in the plot moving forward.

The final season, like all the others prior, has been an emotional rollercoaster. As the show winds down to its final moments, it feels like fans are headed for a bittersweet ending.