As This Is Us 'Calls Marriage,' How Do We Rank The Couples?
Al Lowe counts them down from 'blargh' to bliss.
Love is complicated.
Okay, look, this show gets in my heart and punches its way out week after week, so before I start crying again, let's rank each of the marriages (including those that were and those that are to be), and how the players therein fare in this sometimes losing game, from blargh to bliss.
- Miguel and Shelly
Ugh. Miguel! And Shelly. I'm not saying divorce is some shameful thing -- it is frequently very necessary, and I suppose anyone who can do it without complete emotional wreckage should be congratulated. (Note: I have never met anyone who has achieved this.) But Miguel's long-ass, terrible speech about how he just didn't care about getting Shelly water anymore and she didn't care about getting it? Maybe step in sooner than that and give caring a shot, Miguel! Or, like, start caring now?
At least we know now that he and Shelly divorced and that their marriage did not end, as was theorized by one of Previously.TV's more evil forum posters, with Shelly's untimely death. That idea made me panic that I would have to regret my anti-Miguel sentiments, but they thus far remain steadfast. His moving speech at Jack and Rebecca's wedding almost made me like him, but I saw ol' boy flirting with that fine secretary again and the squick was renewed.
- Kate and Toby
Oh, Kate. Kaaaaaate. You're not going to self-sabotage by eating, but you're going to take this guy's word that, on sight, he knows you and is thus attracted to this inner mystery woman you are apparently suppressing inside of yourself? And his name is...Duke? Show, please. I hope you're happy that you've made me like Toby by comparison!
Are we being led to draw the conclusion that Kate learned from Rebecca (see below) to be less than fawningly appreciative of a man who emotionally extends himself for her happiness? I sure AF hope not, y'all, because the barely contained feminazi volcano inside me will spew thetans throughout the world if that is the case. I'm not here to congratulate a man for having an emotion. Or is it instead being suggested that Kate can learn something about her parents' relationship from the situation she is in with Toby? He's not perfect, but he is Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky Big Moment like her dad was, but his actions come across as a lot more selfish than Jack's.
Anyway. Should Kate examine why it is that she is seemingly underwhelmed and unable to commit to Toby, a man who seems to love her? Is it because she is afraid his love is not genuine? Is it because she is afraid it is? Either way, her midnight raid on Cabin 13 is depressing as hell. Self-sabotage is a vile thing, especially when you kickstart your way out of one situation by using something worse. I'd like to drag Toby for that sad-sack "here's my Grandmother's ring" mope he was trying to pull off after he was the one who distracted Kate and her whole class with his jokey jokes, but now I'm too mad at Kate.
- Kevin and Sophie
It's hard to care about these two.
Give me more on them besides "we've known each other a long time and both love French fries" or I can't with them. It just seems crammed in and unshaped. I was even a little grossed out by their catch-up on the train when Sophie asks after Kate and then sort of made a condescending "aw, good for the fat girl" face when Kevin said she was engaged. Like, was I imagining that? Maybe. This show's got me too deep with my feelings. I am curious about some of the family history alluded to in their convo, but get deeper into it or get out. The notion that Kevin is, deep down, this big romantic puppy pining after one girl his whole life would be more powerful if anything about Kevin seemed deep down whatsoever.
I was hoping that the withering stare of the legendary Marla Gibbs, TV's beloved Florence from The Jeffersons, would trigger some sensible real talk in that diner, but even she was stupefied when confronted with The Manny.
- Beth and Randall
I'm so worried about Randall after every episode of This Is Us that I find myself thinking of him as I am trying to fall asleep, as if he is a real person. I can only attribute this to the greatness of Sterling K. Brown and his perfect counterpart, Susan Kelechi Watson. They are making me believe it.
There is a lot of literature out there about the effects of adoption that endure into adulthood. Even children who grow up happy and loved can feel these phantom insecurities and anxieties. As an adoptive parent, I can see shades of this in my household, and I do what I can to shore up the foundation where I sense it could be cracked. Of course, these fears and apprehensions are found in plenty of people who were raised in their biological families, as well, but look at Randall: for a driven perfectionist, he's facing a lot of losses. That shaking hand as he picks up the water Beth left for him on his bedside table (of course she did!): how will he weather the coming storm? It's sad that what he needs most now as he faces his final moments with William is someone like Jack. As no-nonsense as Beth can be, I think Randall has that in her (even if she justifiably burns him so hard about his cool-guy Sisqó shirt, in possibly the most Real Marriage Moment in television history).
Also: Is Sanjay the new Miguel, or what? I'm watching you!
- Jack and Rebecca
That Jack sure is a good guy, isn't he? His big heart and love for his wife lead to a beautiful moment back in the Pearsons' first home.
But that wasn't the most beautiful moment. No, that comes when Rebecca appreciates the gesture, agrees that they will be okay, and still wants to go on the band's tour. And why shouldn't she? Y'all can fight me. Because no, you cannot "have it all," but you CAN want it, and you CAN have some of it, and if you can possibly get it, you should. I mean, if it is humanly possible, and you want it, get it. Does Jack love Rebecca? Obviously, he loves her more than life, itself, and is willing to sacrifice to keep his family comfortable. Is his grand gesture of going back to their old apartment the sweetest thing that ever happened and does it illustrate his deep, deep commitment to his marriage and family and, in general, his sainthood? It does. It does! If my husband did that for me -- and he has done many similar things for me -- I would fall down on the floor and cry in gratitude. But does one thing equal the other? No. Should one night, or a million nights, of passionate appreciation and reconnecting erase Rebecca's desire to do something she wants to do and can do? Nah.
So, I shut my ears to any suggestion that Rebecca is selfish for dropping that bomb in the beatific post-shower moment. I think, and I hope I'm right, that she is entirely aware of how much he loves her, and that hearing him renew his vows to her allows her to "call marriage." As romantic as it is to see all this masculine perfection and sentimentality, I sure hope we get some stuff post-haste that illustrates his understanding that she feels the same, and sacrifices as much, for him.