This Is Us: What We Love About the Big 3, and What We Hate!

Television

It’s incredible to think that just a few years ago, we didn’t know the Pearson family.

In just four seasons of This Is Us, the Big 3 has burrowed their way into our hearts in a way that only a handful of TV families have managed to do.

From the stunning pilot episode to the heartbreaking fight between brothers during This Is Us Season 4 finale, we’ve found our selves wanting to hug the Pearson clan.

We also, occasionally, want to strangle them, too.

So while we wait for This Is Us Season 5, my fellow TV Fanatics, Jack Ori, Berea Orange, Sarah Little, Whitney Evans, Jasmine P., Lizzy Buczak, Jessica Lerner, and I have gotten together to kibitz, complain and debate all things Pearson.

Christine: So let’s dive in and ask who was your favorite character at the beginning of the series, and has that changed?

Berea: Randall has been my favorite from the beginning because I related to him the most, but I also really love Kevin, and Jack is like Jon Snow to me, in that everyone loves him.

Jack: Randall has always been my favorite. I think I’m the only Kate fan, but she has grown on me a lot over the course of the series.

Lizzy: Jack has always been my favorite, but that’s so cliche. There was a time when I didn’t really like Kevin’s character, but I love him now.

Berea: Kate could die, and I wouldn’t care. No offense!

Whitney: I loved Randall in the beginning, but I used to think he was flawless, and now I’ve started to see more of his flaws come out over the past few seasons. And Beth slowly started to eclipse him as my favorite, even though I still like Randall a lot.

Lizzy: Whitney, I’d agree with what you said about Randall!

Jasmine: My favorite, right off the bat, was probably Jack. He’s so captivating and good, even when flawed.

But I loved Randall too because I found him very relatable. So they had me at the very beginning. I still love them both, but I also love Kevin and was surprised to find that he was relatable to me in a lot of ways too.

Sarah: My favorite at the beginning was probably Jack, but it is definitely Kevin now. They did such a great job with his character development, and even though at first glance, he seems very unrelatable as a celebrity, I think many people can relate to his struggles throughout his life. Plus, Jack isn’t featured on the show as much anymore.

Jack: I like Beth too. I especially like college-age Beth/Randall. She balanced him so well.

Jasmine: Beth is the best. She’s my favorite female character on the series.

Sarah: I feel like I never hated Beth, I was just indifferent to her. As the show has gone on, I’ve fallen so hard in love with her character. She’s freaking amazing!

Jack: I relate to Randall’s anxiety and Beth’s struggles in dealing with it.

Christine: I used to think Beth and Randall were the perfect couple, but now I realize how much she puts up with to make their family work.

Jasmine: Beth does balance Randall out well and always has, but like Christine said, their relationship is so imbalanced. Sometimes I think she puts more effort into it than him.

Ironically, they mirror Jack and Rebecca with Beth/Jack putting in more effort, and Rebecca/Randall always needing more support, etc.

Lizzy: I think it really helped when they showed us Beth’s backstory with dance and her mother.

Hey This Is Us fans, it’s your turn. Who is your favorite character?

Christine: Randall has all of these issues and big dreams, and he expects Beth to follow along, which she generally does, but the moment she wanted something that was just hers, to be a dance teacher, he belittled that dream and basically told her it wasn’t her turn. That infuriated me.

Jack: Christine, me too! Randall has been selfish ever since then.

Jasmine: That was definitely when the flaws in their relationship were revealed. I was so upset about that with Randall.

Christine: But I do think that Beth and Randall are in it for the long haul, as we’ve seen in glimpses of their future. They love and respect one another, but I think Beth is the one that makes this relationship work.

It was Beth’s idea to move the family to Philadelphia so that they could all follow their dreams and be together, where Randall was only thinking about himself.

Whitney: Yeah, I’ve found myself increasingly disappointed in Randall over the last few seasons because he does have a lot of selfish tendencies.

Lizzy: Randall means well, but he’s so determined to get his way that it’s overbearing. He doesn’t know how to control it, and so he comes off being controlling, as we saw with Rebecca’s treatment.

Jasmine: I am disappointed in Randall, but I also like that he is now being shown as imperfect. I love that there is space for that. And it also aligns with his striving to be perfect but always falling short.

Christine: Yes, in many ways, Randall is a great guy, and I think that’s part of the beauty of the show. These characters are complex and never one-note, which makes them real. Speaking of relationships, do you think Kate and Toby will last?

Berea: I’m skeptical. I think Kate and Toby are heading for divorce.

Lizzy: I want them to last, but I’m also a little iffy. Kate has been a lot, and Toby has done his best to put up with her, but I don’t know how much more he has left in him. The flash-forwards don’t look promising for this couple.

Jasmine: I don’t think Kate and Toby will last. I would like them stay together, but I don’t see it.

Whitney: Kate and Toby never seem like they’re on the same page. I have to imagine that if they can’t correct that, they won’t make it in the long run.

Christine: I feel like Toby is trying, but sometimes Kate gets angry when he doesn’t feel or react to things the way she does, and that’s a big problem for them.

Sarah: I personally do not think Kate and Toby will make it. I think the end of Season 4 showed a bit of optimism for their relationship, but they have a lot of issues, and the scenes from the future are not helping.

Jack: I hope Kate and Toby last, but I’m not hopeful, not when they can’t get on the same page about anything.

Berea: Kate is just annoying. Who gets mad at someone for losing weight?

Jasmine: The way I see it, at least one of the couples has to have a divorce or something, and I think while Kevin has, Kate is headed there as a mature adult because relationships don’t always work. If that makes sense.

Jessica: With Kate and Toby adopting another child, they seem to be together for the immediate future, but the flash-forwards suggest they will get divorced at some point. I liked the pairing in the beginning, but the way Toby treated Jack (aka his son) during season 4 irked me.

Christine: Kate is mysteriously absent from the future scenes. What do you think that means?

Sarah: I can see Kate either being dead or estranged from the family in the future. Or she’s just very late to parties. Berea: I think her being absent from the future scenes means she’s dead, she and Toby divorce, or she has weight loss surgery.

Christine: I worry that Kate has passed away in the future.

Jack: Kate has issues as much as Randall does. It’s interesting to see the different ways they deal with their problems and different reactions from viewers.

Whitney: Very true, Jack, and Kevin as well.

Christine: Yes. All of the Big 3 have their issues to work through.

Sarah: At that point, someone else has to have died, right? Maybe it was Kate.

Lizzy: I think they are trying to mess with us by making her late, but she is fine, though, she and Toby may be divorced and not on good terms.

Berea: I’d read when the show first came out that the actress would have to lose weight eventually because that’s going to be Kate’s journey. So I’m curious if that’s what will happen and why we don’t see her in flash-forwards.

Jasmine: I really want to say there is a sexism issue with how the fandom reacts to Kate versus the boys, but she does irk me more than them. I can’t lie. Although she’s grown on me more recently.

Berea: I’m not sure if it’s sexism necessarily. I’m wondering if the fandom’s response to Kate is because she just comes off as whiny because her issues don’t seem as big as Kevin and Randall’s.

Lizzy: I think Kate’s issues are as big, but I think the way she goes about them is whiny. As someone pointed out, she got mad at Toby for losing weight, which is immature and selfish.

Jack: I wouldn’t be surprised if Kate was just late and not late as in dead! The writers like to mess with us that way.

Jessica: If Kate does pass, it will give the series the opportunity to explore what the loss of a child means. That could be an interesting storyline, especially if Rebecca can’t remember that her daughter is dead.

Christine: Boy, that could get dark, even for This Is Us!

Jack: Ooh, that would be strong drama!

Sarah: I have to say that I’ve never hated Kate, as they all have their issues, but she has never been my favorite.

Whitney: I have a feeling she’s just late as well. And at some point, the Big 3 will all say goodbye to Rebecca together.

Jasmine: The loss of a sibling that they actually grew up with could be so heavy, and Kate is always the glue for the boys.

Sarah: Oh, and losing Kate might be what brings Kevin and Randall back together.

Jack: Especially since they are the same age too. Multiples (even if one is adopted) have a special relationship.

Christine: Do you think the family puts Jack on too high a pedestal?

Jasmine: Definitely. He was pretty perfect, but they do.

Lizzy: Oh, 1000%. And we all do too.

Berea: Yes, he’s on too high a pedestal, but I think that’s largely due to the fact he died so young.

Whitney: 100% they do, but the show also paints Jack as damn near perfect in many ways, so it’s hard to say they shouldn’t view him that way.

Sarah: It’s hard to say cause a lot of what we see of Jack is through the family’s eyes, but he had his issues like everyone else.

Lizzy: They have been better about showing his demons and flaws, but the family glosses over it because the good outweighs the bad when it comes to memories.

Jessica: Of course. Everyone is always trying to live up to this image they had of Jack, and since he’s gone, they only seem to remember the best, not his imperfections, including that he lied about his younger brother dying!

Jasmine: I think it really comes out when you consider the people added into the family and how they have to incorporate this man they’ve never met into every facet of their lives. Like, do any of them bring their own traditions to their families?

Jack: That’s a great point, Jasmine. Jack D is the only one carrying on a new tradition, and that was Nicky and Jack’s. Jack had many flaws. They idealize him to an extent.

Christine: Has the Big 3’s idealized view of their father hurt their lives, and if so, who has been hurt the most by it?

Berea: I think it’s a bit of a tie between Kate and Randall.

Lizzy: It is a toss-up between Randall and Kevin, in my opinion, but I am leaning towards Kevin because of how he acted when he was younger.

Jasmine: I think it has helped and hurt all of them in different ways. Randall and Kevin both chase after being their father. Kate chases after being the apple of someone’s eye like she was with him.

Jack: Kevin seems to suffer from thinking he won’t measure up to Jack while Randall is trying too hard to fill Jack’s shoes.

Berea: Kate seemed to struggle the most after their dad died since she blamed herself. But Randall felt he had to fill Jack’s shoes, taking care of the family and being as good a father and husband as he remembers Jack being.

Jessica: Yes, because the Big 3 take everything Jack did as gospel. Remember when Jack told the toddler Randall he needed his son not to be a problem, so Randall ended up trying to be perfect and never be a problem, resulting in his chronic anxiety.

Jack: Yes! That was so powerful.

As for Kate, I’m not sure, but I think Jack’s death and getting involved with Marc were related, and Marc’s abuse left a big scar too.

Christine: And Kevin views his parents’ relationship as perfect, so he has unrealistic expectations and is so desperate to duplicate his parents’ great love story that he falls in love after one date.

Jack: That drives me nuts about Kevin.

Christine: Personally, I hate the way the kids see Rebecca as some helpless wallflower and that she needs someone to take care of her now that Jack is gone. That might have been different if they had a more realistic view of their dad.

Jasmine: Yes. That! I also have an issue with how fragile they treat Rebecca. But then I’ve always had an issue with how helpless Rebecca comes across even in the past.

Christine: I never saw Rebecca as helpless, but she was definitely mired in grief and struggled to move on and raise three kids by herself.

Jasmine: I mean, even before Jack’s death. I don’t know, there’s something about that I couldn’t connect to, I guess.

Jack: I think Rebecca had a hard time being just Rebecca and not Jack’s wife/fixer. And the kids rushed in to fill that vacuum, especially Randall.

Christine: Does the show short-change Miguel? Do you want to see more of his and Rebecca’s relationship?

Sarah: At first, I didn’t want to see Rebecca and Miguel’s relationship at all because I was sad about Jack, but now I’m so interested to learn more about the start of their relationship.

Jack: Yes! I want to see more of how Miguel and Rebecca came to be as well as their relationship now.

Jessica: Miguel will always be second best to Jack. He’s essentially a stand-in for the husband that she lost.

Jack: I feel like Miguel is there to be a foil for Randall. I want him to be more fully developed.

Jasmine: A foil to Randall in what way? I’m curious!

Jack: What I mean by him being a foil is, it stuck in my mind how he and Randall kept butting heads over Rebecca’s care. Randall wants to be Rebecca’s caretaker, and so does Miguel.

Christine: I love Miguel, but it feels like he’s in an unwinnable position with this family. The Big 3 never see him as the great guy who loves and takes care of their mom, but the guy who has replaced their dad. It’s childish and unfair.

Whitney: They definitely short-change Miguel. I started off not wanting to know, but I’m very curious to see more of their relationship. It feels like it’s time to explore that.

Sarah: Especially because the kids can be so rude to Miguel and dismiss him as not being really a part of the family. I’ve grown to love Miguel and want to see more of his character.

Jasmine: It was no secret that I wasn’t a big Miguel fan, but he has grown on me. He does get short-changed. He has an entire family with other kids that we barely see because once you get involved with the Pearsons, it’s all about them.

Lizzy: Yeah, I feel bad for Miguel. He is such a good guy who stepped up for the family, but he is always seen as second best. I want to know more about him. It also seems like he promised Jack he would take care of the family, and he’s stuck to it.

Christine: I feel like the Big 3 don’t respect Miguel as Rebecca’s husband, and that bugs me.

Whitney: It bothers me too. They’re adults, and they seem to have zero respect for him.

Christine: Randall didn’t even consult Miguel about Rebecca’s medical care, and that’s horrible!

Jessica: More depth in Rebecca and Miguel’s relationship would be great. I’d like to see from his perspective about the difficulties of caring for someone with dementia.

Jack: I would love to see Miguel’s reaction to Rebecca’s cognitive decline outside of Randall’s response.

Jasmine: Yes. Agree!

Christine: Yes, I’m hoping Rebecca’s story gives us flashbacks into how she and Miguel got together. I worry that if Rebecca dies, Miguel will end up alone because the family doesn’t really see him as family.

Jack: Me too! Milo Ventimiglia said there would be less Jack because there’s less story to tell for him at this point. So now it’s time to see more of Rebecca/Miguel!

Jasmine: Once we got more flashbacks about how much Miguel did for them, it stopped making sense why as adults, they still treated him so horribly. I recall Miguel even connecting to teen Randall once concerning also being a man of color. What an interesting story they could have explored!

Jessica: I mean, Miguel wasn’t at the flash-forward goodbye with Rebecca, so that could be very telling.

Jack: I’m also curious about Nicky being at the flash forward. (Nicky has also really grown on me!)

Jasmine: I love Nicky!

Christine: Rebecca didn’t even know Nicky before Kevin brought him back, so it is curious that he should be there during that flash-forward.

Whitney: I’ve assumed Miguel was dead when I saw Nicky at Rebecca’s bedside.

Jasmine: I also thought it was curious that Nicky was there and not Miguel. Maybe Miguel died.

Christine: Ugh, you might be right, and I’d hate that.

Jack: Me too!

I was disappointed Nicky was MIA for most of the second half of season 4. I might have mentioned once or twice in my This Is Us reviews that I was going through Nicky withdrawal! 

Jessica: Nicky is great. I think there are some fan theories out there that Nicky and Rebecca get together at some point, which could explain why.

Christine: Maybe Miguel is on his way to the house with Kate!

Jack: It could be. Kate has a way of making other people late!

Sarah: These flash-forwards are killing me! I just want to know everything.

Lizzy: I thought that maybe Rebecca confused Nicky for Jack, and that’s why he was by her side.

Jessica: That’s a good theory. Sarah: Ooo, that is a good point.

Lizzy: But that is also just terrible for Miguel.

Jasmine: Isn’t it always?

Jack: That could be it too. It’s hard to tell what’s real, what’s imaginary, or what’s happening because the writers are so good at these flash-forwards and misdirects.

Christine: Has there been one character who has disappointed you over the course of the show?

Jack: Well, I was pretty disappointed with Randall’s selfish behavior this season, even though I understood it.

Lizzy: Okay, I was just about to say that, Jack. It is like you are in my brain!

Sarah: Lately, I’ve been disappointed in Randall, as most of us can agree. Of course, he has a lot of great sides to his character, but we saw a lot of the bad this season.

Christine: Yeah, for me, it’s been, Randall. He’s a great guy in a lot of ways, but he absolutely needs to be in control and have everyone follow his lead.

Jessica: Definitely Randall, and Toby disappointed me this season.

Christine: Why Toby?

Jessica: Because of how he treated his son, Jack. He could barely bring himself to look at Jack when he found out his son was blind. And then when he did give Jack some attention, it was only after the realization that Jack could see some light.

He got his act together later, but it still really bothered me.

Jasmine: I think they need to develop Toby more. As a spouse, he pales in comparison to Beth but isn’t as shafted as Miguel.

Christine: I think a lot of people have trouble coming to terms with a child with disabilities or other issues, so I thought that was realistic.

Toby didn’t react the way Kate did, but I was willing to cut him some slack to deal with his feeling and catch up. But I know the way he reacted made a lot of fans angry.

Jack: Jessica, I didn’t like that either. I know Toby was having a hard time dealing with it, but as a person with disabilities, it seriously irked me.

I also wasn’t happy with Toby because he and Kate were BOTH talking to other people about their problems, and it was annoying.

Christine: Yes, Kate and Toby have serious communication issues, and they need to fix that to save their marriage.

Jasmine: Throughout the show, I would say Kate has had the least growth for me. So I’m always disappointed by how limited her storylines are and that they’re mostly around her weight.

Recently, I’m disappointed in Randall’s selfishness. But then, I like that we are seeing that he’s flawed too. Although sometimes it bugs me that it seems like they have to play with the likability of the brothers, like you can only have one likable at a time.

Whitney: Randall has disappointed me the most, but I probably put him on a pedestal he didn’t deserve. His selfishness has been a huge turn-off, and it’s become harder and harder to defend him.

Jack: Exactly, Whitney. I love Randall, but I gave up trying to defend him because he just wasn’t defendable.

Jasmine: Whitney, I agree about Randall. I think I put him on a pedestal like Jack.

Whitney: It does feel like you have to be Team Randall or Team Kevin. There’s always a side to choose.

Christine: Team Randall or Team Kevin bothers me because we’ve seen Kevin come to Randall’s aid when he’s had his anxiety attacks, but it’s like Randall doesn’t recall that.

Jasmine: But we’ve also seen Randall support Kevin too. I mean, it’s there. But sometimes I feel like even the writers forget that. Like Randall sobbed during his movie premiere.

Jack: I love it when Kevin is supportive of Randall. I just wish Randall would be less, not snooty about Kevin, that’s not the right word, but he comes off lately as thinking Kevin is incompetent, and Randall has all the answers.

Sarah: I absolutely hate that they keep pitting Kevin and Randall against one another only for them to have another fight, especially because we have seen heartwarming moments between the two of them.

Jessica: Kevin wasn’t the greatest brother growing up, but since he’s been an adult, he’s tried to make things right between him and Randall. I think Randall is still holding on to that resentment.

Lizzy: This!

Sarah: Yes, I definitely agree!

Christine: Yes, Randall likes to put Kevin down for his acting or his lack of relationship, but I think it stems from jealously over Kevin being Jack’s biological son.

Sarah: Harsh but true.

Jasmine: I hate that it comes off like an either-or thing. That because Kevin is now growing as a character and not so conceited or whatever, now Randall has to look like an ass. When their whole life, it was Randall trying to get his brother’s approval.

Jack: That’s a good point. It would be nice if we didn’t have that dynamic.

Lizzy: Randall has also always made Kevin feel less than, and like he is some kind of joke. He tries his best, but no one takes him seriously, especially Randall.

Christine: Yes, and that bugs me too.

Jack: I feel Randall expects Kevin will always be there when he needs him, but he treats Kevin poorly when he’s not. That’s not a good look for Randall

Christine: It’s as though Randall believes that Kevin is less than him because he makes his living in the arts and isn’t married with kids.

Whitney: Randall and Kevin have a lot of resentment towards each other. They love and care about each other, but they clash because they’re holding onto so much anger from their childhood.

Jasmine: I mean, Kevin knew he could hurt Randall the most alluding to him not being a bio kid when they had that last fight.

Christine: Exactly. They both tried their best to hurt one another. Randall said when Jack died that he was ashamed of Kevin, and Kevin fired back with both barrels.

Lizzy: I agree, Kevin wasn’t a great brother as a kid, so now it does seem like the roles are reversed. But I think Kevin acted that way because he was insecure and hid behind this funny guy persona and took cheap shots.

Sarah: Randall and Kevin both lead very separate lives and are two completely different people. The episode with Randall’s therapist, where he imagined different futures for himself, told us a lot about what he really thinks of Kevin.

Jack: Yeah, I think the relationship between Kevin and Randall as kids was complex, and now it’s spilled over into adulthood.

Christine: Randall was always so good at everything, and Rebecca went out of her way to favor Randall, so it’s easy to see how Kevin felt insecure next to his brother.

Jessica: And so when Kevin is made to feel that way again, he lashes out.

Jasmine: Kevin wasn’t a great brother almost into adulthood. He often made Randall feel inferior for being “smart,” so I do think there is a resentment that’s hard to shake even as adults.

Christine: How long do you think this rift will last into next season? How long do you want it to continue?

Jack: I got the feeling this rift was a long term thing. Like when Randall comes to say goodbye to Rebecca, have he and Kevin talked in the last 20-30 years? I would prefer it to not last too long, but I don’t think I’ll get my wish.

Whitney: It feels like a fight that in real life could last years. But I imagine they won’t go the entire season having them at odds.

Jessica: I think it will last at least half of the season. Both of them are also really stubborn, so neither one is going to be the first to apologize.

Lizzy: It seemed pretty serious, so I think it will last a bit. Even in the flash-forward, they didn’t seem to be that close anymore.

Sarah: I have a bad feeling that it will last a long time. I can’t see it until the end of the next season, but maybe by the midseason finale? They both said cruel and terrible things to one another, and it’s going to be hard for them to move past this.

Jasmine: It does feel like it may be a while. Even the flash-forward felt kind of frosty.

Sarah: It also depends on when the season is actually going to start off. Will there be a time jump?

Jack: I haven’t read it yet, but I saw a headline for an interview with Justin Hartley saying This Is Us Season 5 will pick up where Season 4 left off.

Sarah: Oh, that’ll be interesting then!

Jasmine: I think they’re going to really milk this one. They said some truly horrible things, and it can’t be swept under the rug this time. I expect Rebecca’s entire stay at that place to be tense for the boys. So nine months at least.

Jessica: Maybe the birth of Kevin’s twins will be the thing to get them to start talking again.

Christine: Okay, is there any other topic you guys would like to discuss before we wrap things up?

Lizzy: I know the show is about the Big 3, but I want to see more of their kids!

Christine: Yes, we could do a whole other discussion on Jack and Rebecca’s grandkids!

Sarah: Yes, more of Tess, please!

Jasmine: Yes! I would love to know more about Tess and Deja.

Jessica: We saw that Tess becomes a social worker in the future. No mention of what happens to Deja.

Jack: I loved how supportive Kevin was of Tess coming out. I can’t help wondering how the rift will affect her in particular.

Jasmine: I would love if Tess and Kevin were still hanging out even if he and Randall aren’t on speaking terms, and it causes more friction.

Jack: That would be a great way to go!

Sarah: Yes! Kevin and Tess have always had a special relationship, so I hope we get to see the tension that provokes now that Kevin and Randall have had their falling-out. I can’t see Kevin staying away just because of Randall.

Now it’s your turn TV Fanatics. Who’s your favorite character? Who has disappointed you the most? Is Kate alive or dead in that flash-forward? Do we need more of Miguel? And what do you think of the Kevin/Randall rift?

Hit that BIG, BLUE, SHOW COMMENTS BUTTON down below to chime in and be a part of our This Is Us conversation.

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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