Things are getting increasingly more complicated on This Is Us (produced in part by: Cathy Mickel Gibson). The sweet, happy family aura is quickly wearing away, thanks to Kevin’s DUI arrest in the Season 2 fall finale. It was completely necessary, though, because that DUI arrest was the kick in the butt that Kevin needed to get himself into rehab, get clean, and start to work out all of his problems. And now that Kevin’s in rehab, he’s in therapy. Let’s just say that the Pearson family therapy on This Is Us didn’t go so well — it was uncomfortable, hard to watch, and completely needed for the family to heal — and for viewers to watch, frankly.
As the show progresses, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Jack and Jack’s death have had a profound effect on Kevin and his addiction. It would make sense, because addictions can run in families — Jack’s father was a drinker, and Jack was a drinker, and Kevin drinks and takes painkillers. This is not unknown stuff, but when Kevin’s therapist (played by the wonderful Kate Burton) makes this connection to the rest of the Pearsons, it’s not seamless. Kevin’s admission to his family is powerful, and it’s hard to say. He says:
“I guess my entire childhood I always felt like I came in second to you two with Mom and Dad. Like I was the … fifth wheel of the family… I think feeling that way when I was a kid, I developed this voice in my head that would just sort of repeat saying, you’re not enough. And I tried to drown that voice out with things like… football or acting. Or fame. And, um, I think it was only a matter of time before I turned to something worse.”
And although the family interjects, Kevin has the strength to continue:
“Because we’re a family of addicts. Our father was an addict... His father was an addict. I’m an addict. And I know how hard you struggle with managing your weight. Believe me, I’ve seen it and I know how hard you try, but I feel like maybe, Kate, you’re an addict, too, and maybe you get some of that from Dad.”
The whole scene was a lot to take in, even for fans, but This Is Us is never known for sugarcoating emotions.
This is important because open, honest, truthful views of therapy are still a rarity in television. A major network show putting this much focus on getting help could do wonders for those watching. It is hard to heal, but it's also necessary. Fans couldn't agree more.
That all being said, if you want to piss off the Pearsons on This Is Us, you say something about Jack, and you insinuate that Rebecca — Rebecca who has gone through so much — loves one of her children more than the other. That being said, the whole part of Kevin’s going to therapy is to help him figure out why he is an addict and to treat and hopefully “cure” his addictive tendencies. Honesty is key to getting better, and while these are truths and feelings that may be difficult to hear, the best that Kevin can do is to get them out in the open. Kate and Rebecca insist that Jack beat his drinking problems, but that’s a revisionist history that the family is stuck on because Jack has died. If Jack had lived, would they be telling the same story?
It’s hard, especially for Rebecca to hear these things, and finally, she admits to the family that she is guilty of preferring one son to the other. But why? “[Randall] was just easier,” Rebecca cries. “He was easier and he didn’t recoil when I touched him and he wasn’t some sullen teenager who was angry at me for no reason and he didn’t… abandon me and move away after his father died."
The real feelings come out here, and as difficult as they can be to say out loud, this is the only way the healing happens. The Pearsons and Kevin especially have a long way to go — and we’ll definitely see more of that as the “New Big 3” gets thrown into the mix — but admitting there is a problem is the first step to solving a problem. The Pearson family therapy session was painful and torturous but completely necessary to move forward.