It's not every day that a series is a critical darling, a ratings hit, an award winner, a social media sensation, and generally a feel good family series all wrapped up into one. The NBC series This Is Us has managed to beat the odds and succeed in all of those areas. The series follows the trials and tribulations of the Pearson family, ranging from the childhood and adolescences of matriarch and patriarch Jack and Rebecca, to their adventures as parents to three young children known as The Big Three, all the way to the present and the future as Randall, Kate, and Kevin (The Big Three) grow into adults.
This Is Us is known for its heartstring-tugging storylines, for long inspiring speeches, and for surprising (sometimes manipulative) twists that always upend the series' universe and tug the rug out from under the audience in the blink of an eye. With its third season set to resume in the coming weeks, now's the perfect time to look back on some of the choices the series has made that have been more questionable. However, we're not talking about the plot twists or anything of that sort in this article. Instead, we're looking at some of the questionable choices the series made in constructing its central characters and relationships – problems that the most dedicated This Is Us fans have been prone to ignore. So, without further ado, here are 20 Things Wrong With This Is Us We All Choose To Ignore.
20 Kevin's Forgotten Season One love triangle
Not every romantic couple that ever starts on a series, whether a comedy or drama, is destined to stay together forever. We're not saying that Kevin should have wound up with judgmental actress Olivia (definitely not) or the adorably mousy playwright Sloane (though we wouldn't have minded), but it's pretty bad when a series spends the majority of its first season building up the tension of a love triangle...
...and then drops it entirely without so much as a word. Of course, neither of these relationships was ever meant to hold a candle to the history and love shared between Kevin and his first love (and ex-wife), Sophie, but the series wasted so much time developing this love triangle that the way they handled getting rid of it also feels like a bit of a missed opportunity, too.
19 Miguel isn't the only one who remarried his former best friend's spouse
Of all the fictional characters on TV right now, Miguel Rivas has the misfortune of being one of the most criticized of all on social media. What's his failing, you ask? Miguel married Rebecca after Jack's passing (many, many years after) even though he had been Jack's best friend during their years as coworkers. It's something that passionate fans have frequently vented about, even going so far as to complain to the actor, Jon Huertas, on Twitter.
But, something that most fans tend to overlook here is that Miguel isn't the only one guilty of remarrying his former best friend's ex. Miguel's ex-wife, Shelly, was once Rebecca's best friend, too, which puts Rebecca in entirely the same situation that Miguel finds himself in now, though she receives none of the criticism.
18 Randall's political ambitions make no sense
From childhood, it's been clear that Randall is the most intelligent member of the Pearson clan, with limitless potential ahead of him. He attended the best of schools, from elementary all the way through college, and made an impressive, successful career for himself in weather trading in New York City.
After Randall quit his job near the end of season one, however, his career journey took a bit of a turn for the unexpected. He spent much of season two as a stay at home dad, helping out with Deja's transition into the Pearson household and working as a landlord at William's old building in Pittsburgh. But, season three has, for some reason, found Randall trying out his hand at a career in politics, in a neighborhood he has no claim to, despite his clear lack of qualifications and preparedness for such a role.
17 Pittsburgh and Alpine, NJ, are further apart than the show thinks
Randall and Beth are clearly two characters of considerable means, so it's not entirely out of the question that Randall really does drop everything and travel all around the country whenever he's needed. He's certainly taken his fair share of flights out to California to visit Kate, and he's traveled back and forth all around the Tri-State Area whenever necessary.
But, something the show clearly fails to understand, or at least, never signals that it understands, is that Randall's home of Alpine, New Jersey is, in fact, over six hours from Pittsburgh, where he has spent so much of the third season traveling back and forth from as part of his political campaign. Somehow, he manages to make the journey at the drop of a hat, with no questions raised at all.
16 Kevin and Kate aren't great siblings to Randall
We hate to break it to you, everyone, but the notion of The Big Three is a total lie the show has been selling you. From childhood, it was always apparent that Kevin and Kate (as biological twins) had a strong connection that Randall was never privy to. Kevin and Randall have seldom been on good terms for their entire life, but during their teenage years, Randall and Kate seemed to have forged a closer connection.
However, with The Big Three in their late 30s now, it's clear that the childhood dynamics are once again rearing their ugly heads. Kevin and Kate may occasionally get along with Randall when there's something in it for either of them, but it's clear that, deep down, they still see their adopted brother as an outsider, with Kate even callously claiming that Randall could never pass on Jack's legacy because it's not his biology.
15 The timeline of Jack and Rebecca's first date
When a series is grounded in so many different historical moments, it's important to ensure that references to actual events, products, and people are all time sensitive and entirely accurate. If they're not, well, the story runs the risk of being jeopardized, sure, but the internet will also have a field day picking the mistake apart. This Is Us unfortunately befell this fate with its third season premiere.
In this episode, Jack and Rebecca go on their first date back in the 1970s to a local Pittsburgh carnival. Simultaneously, an incredibly important football game is taking place, culminating in the famous play known as the Immaculate Reception. This game took place in snowy Pittsburgh on December 23, 1972. But, during Jack and Rebecca's outdoor carnival date, there's no signs of winter or the holiday season anywhere.
14 Kate's storyline has rarely ever not revolved around her weight
When it first premiered, This Is Us received both praise and criticism for its treatment of Kate's weight, including a striking moment in the pilot when actress Chrissy Metz appeared on a scale, entirely undressed, as Kate addressed the reality of her weight. However, regardless of what the powers that be behind the series have claimed about Kate's storyline not always revolving around her weight, closer inspection reveals that this isn't true, at all.
Kate thinks about pursuing music, but finds herself in her mother's shadow, which once again brings up the issue of her weight and Rebecca's micromanaging of it. Even several of young Kate's heartwarming flashbacks with Jack wind up with a discussion of her weight, or even the suggestion that Jack indulged her more than he should have. And now, Kate has spent the last season hoping to beat the odds with a pregnancy that everyone tells her should be impossible. Why? Because of her weight.
13 The Substandard Age Makeup on Miguel and Rebecca
We get it: not every series can have the costuming and makeup budget of a high caliber series like Game of Thrones or any other fantasy or period piece. But, the makeup work whenever This Is Us tries to age up some of its core characters (most notably, Miguel and Rebecca) is shoddy at best, and laughable at worst. It was bad enough when the characters first appeared as their aged-up selves in the series' second episode, but with time, the work hasn't improved, instead staying just as mediocre.
Now, with an additional future timeline introduced, we are forced to witness the similar treatment for Randall, who looks many, many decades older than Beth and Toby do in related scenes due to inaccuracies in makeup.
12 Jack and Rebecca's relationship is pretty imperfect
It's a pretty common thing to see on social media: people proclaiming that the relationship between marrieds Jack and Rebecca Pearson is nothing short of “couple goals.” Their story spans decades, from their chance meeting in a bar's karaoke night, to their life raising a family together, and even years after Jack's tragic passing. Their seeming fairytale never received a happily ever after.
But, calling it a fairytale is already quite a bit of a stretch. Though viewers may like to ignore these moments in the long run, Jack and Rebecca's relationship has been shown to be incredibly shaky at times, due to Jack's addiction struggles, Rebecca's resentment over putting her fledgling music career on hold in order to be a housewife, Jack's jealousy issues, and Rebecca's tendency to criticize first and attempt to understand second.
11 Randall and Beth aren't exactly #CoupleGoals either
It's not hard to make the claim that, out of all the Pearson clan, Randall has followed in his father's (Jack) footsteps the most, regardless of biology. He's a good father and a good man, despite all that he has endured, and most of the time, he's a good husband to Beth, too.
But, also like Jack, and his relationship with Rebecca, Randall and Beth's marriage is hardly the idyllic one that fans want to portray it as. Randall makes decisions, life-changing ones to be specific, without consulting Beth first, such as inviting his biological father to live with them or beginning a political career. Beth is judgmental and quick to snap rather than talk things out, and both of them struggle with communication, putting their children ahead of their marriage time and again.
10 Toby was originally a major controlling character
Toby and Kate, or as the show itself has taken to calling them, KaToby, have been through a lot together in the short few years they've been in a relationship. They've endured countless health crises, including Toby's heart issues and Kate's miscarriage, they've been through Kate's career struggles, Toby's regression to extreme depression, and they even managed to make it down the aisle at the end of season two. Now, midway through season three, they're expecting a baby and hoping for the best.
But, when This Is Us began, their relationship was hardly as warmly received as it is now. Toby was once a contentious character, thanks to his originally much more crude dialogue, his overbearing, controlling personality, his extreme gestures that were meant to be romantic but often came off as weird, and more. Thankfully, the writers have solved much of what made him such a grating character early on, resulting in his status as one of the series' most enjoyable members.
9 William's backstory is inconsistent
William Hill is, to this day, one of the best characters that This Is Us ever created, thanks in large part to the strong acting by Ron Cephas Jones, a true dramatic talent. William's absence from the series has loomed large ever since his tragic passing at the end of season one, but his character is never really gone, thanks in large part to the series' non-linear narrative timeline.
However, one of the hazards of structuring a series in such a nonlinear way is that it becomes entirely too easy to make mistakes in your chronology. Early in season one, William reveals that he was taught piano by his father at a very young age. However, “Memphis,” the season one episode that provides a closer look at William's life, reveals that his father passed away when he was an infant – a clear moment of retconning on the series' part.
8 The Pearsons never talk things out
We've already talked about how This Is Us is known for its rousing speeches and total scenery chewing, award-baiting monologues. It's part of what makes the show so much fun, after all. The cast is universally strong, and no character goes without the chance to deliver a powerhouse of a speech at the opportune emotional moment.
But, there's a problem with structuring your narratives this way: the Pearson family may know how to deliver the heck out of a speech, but they sure don't seem to know how to discuss their problems after that. We almost never see any member of the extended Pearson clan discussing issues or coming up with solutions. Instead, we get a mic drop at the end of a speech, and a cut to a commercial break, leaving everything to get resolved off-screen.
7 Kevin's career journey is entirely unrealistic
Out of all the unrealistic things that This Is Us has covered in its brief tenure, Kevin's career journey may very well be the most unrealistic of them all. When the series begins, Kevin is an entitled, spoiled, belligerent sitcom star who experiences a total breakdown on set and is, summarily, let go. After struggling on the theater scene, he lapses into a habit-forming spiral for almost the entirety of season two.
And in season three, suddenly, a film he worked on with Ron Howard early in season two may be the role that defines him as a true, award caliber movie star. None of the work we saw from Kevin in any of the glimpses of his acting work ever suggested anything akin to that sort of talent.
6 Kevin and Zoe's relationship came out of nowhere
Without question, Kevin Pearson really gets around. With the majority of the series' characters already in long term committed relationships when the series began, it's sometimes jarring to see onetime permanent bachelor Kevin wandering around from woman to woman. There was Sophie, and then Olivia, and then Sloane, and then Sophie again, and then an old classmate of his, and now, there's Zoe, Beth's filmmaker cousin with a troubled past of her own.
The two first met at Kate and Toby's wedding at the end of the second season, barely interacting, but by the time the third season began, the series expected viewers to automatically be fully invested in their relationship, despite the fact that viewers never got to see it develop. The amount of screen time their relationship has taken up in the third season has been sizable, but never once has it felt warranted.
5 Miguel had a thing for Rebecca much earlier
We've already talked about the fact that Miguel is experiencing vitriol for marrying Rebecca after Jack's passing. We've also pointed out that Rebecca is also someone who re-married her onetime best friend's ex-spouse, as Miguel's ex-wife, Shelly, had been her best friend at one point in time. But, what we haven't addressed, and what the show tries to ignore, is that Miguel was clearly looking at Rebecca in suggestive ways much earlier than the series wants us to believe.
In the show, we're told that Miguel and Rebecca never connected romantically until years after Jack had passed. However, past Miguel is shown to have a wandering eye, and in the second episode of the series, he even suggests that his eye has wandered to Rebecca when he tells Jack: “Your wife is like the gold standard of wives. She's funny, beautiful. Great personality, greater ass... You married way, way above your station. I'd be careful not to give her a reason to notice.”
4 Randall and Beth's financial situation is impossible
Based on the size of their home in Alpine, New Jersey, the cushy neighborhood they live in, and the countless pieces of valuable furniture and art that adorn their home, it's clear that we're meant to understand that Beth and Randall Pearson are a couple of considerable means. However, what we can't quite wrap our heads around is the fact that finances never become a problem for them, even when one, or both, of them are out of work.
When Randall quits his cushy New York weather trading job in season one, Beth becomes the sole breadwinner in the family. In season two, they take on an additional child, and become landlords for a large apartment building in Pittsburgh. In season three, Beth is let go from her job and Randall is pouring considerable funds into his political campaign, and yet, money is never once brought up for discussion.
3 The show exploits/diminishes the struggles of dependency and mental illness
There's a fine line between shedding light on important issues and exploiting them for your own gain. It's a line that This Is Us toes in almost every episode as so many of its characters deal with demons of all forms. Jack, Kevin, and Kate all have habit-forming personalities, whether to beverages or to food. Randall deals with anxiety, depression, and the physical manifestations of these disorders, including hysterical blindness and panic attacks. Toby struggles with extreme depression, to the point that he is unable to get out of bed for periods at a time when not taking his medication.
But, none of these storylines feel as though they are tastefully handled. Instead, they are trivialized, used for surprising reveals of “faults” in these characters and becoming launching points for cliffhangers and character regression whenever the time calls for it.
2 Rebecca's singing is only “Pittsburgh good”
The motif of music as a career goal and personal motivator is used frequently throughout the series, especially in the journeys of mother-daughter duo Rebecca and Kate. While neither woman has ever made it big as a singer, the series expects us to believe in their journeys and that they're as talented as the best of the best.
However, there's a major disconnect between the series and reality itself. Rebecca, played by professional singer Mandy Moore, is told that she's only “Pittsburgh good” for a singer and winds up doing tours of bars with a hokey band. But, Kate, whether as a teenager or an adult, is told that she has real talent she's wasting in similar gigs, even when her voice is nowhere near as strong as Rebecca's.
1 The show demonizes every non-Pearson family
We get it: we're supposed to think that the central Pearson clan (consisting of Jack, Rebecca, Randall, Kevin, and Kate) is the best family ever. In the present timeline, that logic now applies to Randall's and Kate's extended families, too, but in order to lift up the Pearson family, This Is Us routinely tears down every other family that appears.
Rebecca's mother is unspeakably prejudiced, Toby's parents are bitterly divorced and disapproving of Kate, Jack's father is a cruel, violent drunk, and Zoe was assaulted by her own father. Even families who become likable in the series, such as the African American family that Rebecca and Randall befriend in the past, are initially demonized as having “non Pearson” ways of life.
What do you think the biggest problems are with This Is Us? Let us know in the comments!