Why 'This Is Us' Still Completely Wrecks Us -- In The Best Possible Way

by Christine Burke
Photos courtesy of

For two seasons, I have dutifully tuned in to This Is Us for two reasons: I can’t get enough of the Pearson family and, apparently, I also can’t get enough of ugly crying for an entire hour once a week. Through masterful storytelling and actors who have made Jack, Rebecca, Kate, Kevin and Randall Pearson feel like family members, This Is Us has become a juggernaut.

In fact, when the writers teased the now infamous Super Bowl episode, it was almost as if you could hear a collective gasp when the audience realized we’d finally know the truth about how Jack Pearson died. In the excitement leading up to the show, my friends and I lamented that, while we wanted to know how Jack died, we all agreed we weren’t ready to say goodbye to him (even though we all knew he was already dead…see what this show has done to us?).

And, two words: Crock. Pot. No one saw that coming, least of all, the Crock Pot manufacturers themselves. When a show directly affects the sales of a kitchen appliance staple and spurns the #CrockPotIsInnocent hashtag, it’s clear that This Is Us causes us to feel all the feels.

While we cry weekly as we sip our wine and fall more in love with the Pearson family, here are a few times when they’ve managed to completely wreck our souls.

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t caught up on This Is Us, stop what you are doing and binge-watch immediately. And then come right back here to read about all of the ugly cry episodes.

The Pushup Scene

In this touching scene from Season 1, Jack shows Randall that he will do anything to support his son, even push ups. As we watched Jack take Randall on his back and prove his devotion, we all ugly cried into our tissues. We also cried because now we have to do pushups with our kids, too.

Rebecca’s Sweet Talk With Her Unborn Triplets

As Rebecca prepares to become a mother to three babies, she sits in a rocking chair and tells the Big Three that she’s terrified of becoming a mother. “I will protect you fiercely,” she pledges and tells her babies that she loves them even before she’s met them. And, when she tells them she’s pretty sure she’s not the perfect mom, we all cried in solidarity. Same, Rebecca, SAME.

Randall’s Breakdown

When Randall suffers an anxiety attack in his office, the raw, real portrayal of what anxiety really looks like when it rears its ugly head had us crying in solidarity. And, when Kevin blows off his opening night to run to Randall’s office to comfort him? Let’s just say we all want Kevin to be our brother now too.

Anything Toby Says Ever

Toby may be Team Kate 4Ever but we are Team Toby 4Eva. Every time Toby opens his mouth, we fall in love with him even more. Whether it’s because he’s helped Kate realize her dreams of singing in front of a crowd or when he tells Rebecca that he’s always going to be on Kate’s side, Toby is #boyfriendgoals. Stay amazing, Toby.


When We Find Out That Jack Dies In A Fire

No list of This Is Us ugly cry moments would be complete without mentioning the moment the audience finds out that Jack’s death was caused by a house fire at the Pearson home. As the camera pans away from the house to focus on Rebecca sitting in the family car, we can feel her pain and anguish as she screams in sorrow.

The Lemonade Story

As we listen to Dr. Katowski, played by Gerald McRaney, comfort Jack after the death of his third triplet, it’s impossible not to sob when he tells Jack that he was handed “the sourest lemon life had to offer and tried to make something resembling lemonade.” And when he tells Jack that he thinks his babies “got a good one”? Stick a fork in me, I’m crying again.

When Kevin Loses It On The Lawn

We’ve all had those moments where life seems to have become too overwhelming to bear. In those moments, when we are at our most vulnerable, we cry hot heavy tears of pain and anguish. When Kevin breaks down and lets his feelings flow on the lawn of his one night stand’s house, it’s impossible not to feel sorry for him. The beauty of This Is Us is that the writers capture perfectly what it feels like to be flawed and in real pain.

When Toby Reminds Us He Lost A Baby, Too

Toby reminds us that fathers feel the loss of miscarriage deeply when he tells Kate pointedly that he lost their baby, too. His loss and grief are palpable and we want to wrap Toby in a giant bear hug as he cries it out. Bring it in, Toby. We are here for you, 100%. Right after we finish ugly crying, though.

When We Find Out That A Crock Pot Murdered Jack

Fuck you, Crock Pot. You are dead to us (except on nights when we have soccer, dance lessons and PTA on the same night).

Randall Saying Goodbye To His Father

This episode gutted me and stayed with me for days afterward. Watching Randall say a final goodbye to his father William was almost too much to bear because it mimicked how I felt saying goodbye to my own father. With poignant story telling, the writers manage to make us realize how precious and short life really is. And when Randall sees the ducks at the end of the episode? Pardon me while I go cry my face off again.

Jack’s Death And Pretty Much The Entire Super Bowl Episode

As we watch the hospital scene unfold, Rebecca is all of us as she tries to process the shocking news that Jack has died unexpectedly. We all live in fear of that moment where we lose our significant other and Rebecca’s pain makes us hold our spouses and partners a little more closely as we blow snot onto their shirts. This Is Us broke our hearts and we will never be the same.

As we wrap up Season 2, we are already eagerly awaiting Season 3. Frankly, I don’t know what I’m expected to do for an entire summer without the Pearsons and their ugly crying ways. I guess I’ll just have to rewatch every episode until the Pearsons are back in the Fall because I’m Team This Is Us 4Eva.