If you’re one of the millions of viewers who fawn over NBC’s “This Is Us," there’s probably a special place in your heart for the Pearson family -- unless you’re hate-watching, no judgments.
Clouding our perception with the emotional pitfalls of the Pearsons each week, “This Is Us” has successfully created one of current-day TV’s favorite families.
We broke down the biggest moments and decisions we’ve seen so far by Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), Rebecca (Mandy Moore), Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kate (Chrissy Metz), Kevin (Justin Hartley) and a few extended family members to figure out just how worthy of our praise they really are.
From best to worst, here is our definitive ranking of the Pearsons (and beyond).
Despite the hardships Randall (played by Emmy-winner Brown) has been thrown since the day he was born, he powers through as the ultimate current-day Pearson father figure. Randall faces racism as a young boy? He doesn’t let it define him. Randall finds out he’s been lied to his entire life by Rebecca, the one person he could count on? He forgives her. His biological father, William, stumbles into his life months before death? He welcomes him, comforts him and makes him feel as if he was a part of the family he never knew all along. Deciding to come full circle and adopt a child to carry out what he feels is his legacy tops it all off for Randall fans. His struggle with the decision to allow Deja to return home with her biological mother further proves a depth and maturity that's been a part of his DNA from the start.
The adopted third of the Big Three is easy to love, but he’s not perfect, because who is, really? The depth to Randall’s character, from exposing us to raw moments of panic and anxiety to difficulties in his marriage, only adds to his relatability.
There was so much more to William (Ron Cephas Jones) than Randall got to know. Thankfully, “This Is Us” flashbacks let us see those heartfelt moments that proved Randall’s cancer-stricken birth father had only the purest of intentions when he left his son at the steps of a fire station on the day of his birth. Longing to make sure his son was safe, it was Rebecca who opted to keep William in the dark about her adopted child (cue tears). In the time William did get to spend with his family, he connected with his grandchildren and completely changed the course for Beth and Randall, who are hoping to pass along his legacy.
If you were on the fence about William's selflessness, perhaps the season 2 fall finale sold you: William had the chance to knock on the Pearson family door years ago, but opted against shattering the life Jack and Rebecca had built for his biological son.
Jack Pearson is arguably one of the most beloved dads on TV today. Sure, he’s got his issues (alcoholism, jealousy that leads to hindering Rebecca’s dream) but he does his best to keep his family together through hardship. He always swoops in at the right moment (Kate’s magic shirt, Pilgrim Rick, Randall’s anxiety coping method) making his three kids feel loved and accepted for who they are. Years after his death, his children still worship him. From the decisions they make daily to the traditions they follow, Jack is rooted deep in their hearts and minds -- and for good reason. Though Jack might not be the perfect husband to Rebecca, he never stopped trying to be the best father figure he could be (the exact opposite of his own).
You could try to argue with us on the fact that Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) is the best Pearson wife, but why would you want to? She understands and supports Randall and all his quirks, but surely isn’t afraid to disagree with him. Thankfully, we’ve seen moments that show us who Beth truly is -- far more than a supporting spouse character. She smokes fake cigarettes, knows the tricks to scooping the perfect ice cream cone, adds a spark to the darkest moments (William’s FUN-eral speech) and doesn't hold back when it comes to speaking her mind (See: Season 1, Beth vs. Rebecca).
From the moment Toby (Chris Sullivan) pulled out all the stops on that red-carpet date with Kate, we knew there was something special about him. He’s the optimism Kate needs to pull herself through her weight loss efforts (though his own journey has been rocky) and would fight anything or anyone (even Rebecca) for the woman he loves. Toby may be team Kate for life, but what we’ve seen from him so far has us on #TeamToby.
We were ready to see how he'd take on being a father, but instead we were gifted with yet another selfless Toby scene. He reacts to Kate's miscarriage by spending the afternoon sifting through boxes at the mail facility to stop that baby-tub package from making its way to Kate's door.
Kate is deeply in tune with her emotions, had one of the strongest connections to her late father and finds the strength to speak up for body positivity when facing adversity in an industry focused on appearance. That said, Kate keeps the focus primarily on herself -- if not on her twin, Kevin. We’d say we’re hoping for a plotline that draws Kate temporarily away from her norm, but we're not so sure it's coming anytime soon. Dealing with her miscarriage, Kate seemingly forgets to help Toby cope, too.
It’s becoming easier and easier to like Rebecca as we get deeper into “This Is Us.” The first season started out with multiple strikes against her -- lying to Jack about meeting their adopted son’s birth father, keeping it from Randall his entire childhood, reluctantly adopting Randall in the first place, picking at Kate. But we need to keep in mind that she wasn’t jumping on the chance to become a mom to begin with. All things considered, she raised some pretty amazing children, defended them to the end in front of her own not-so-great mother and fought to keep them in a happy household while silently dealing with her husband's alcohol addiction. Rebecca steps forward for her kids, Kate in particular, and drops her own priorities to lend a shoulder to cry on. Kate helped Rebecca gain a bad rep, but we're learning more and more about her in season 2.
The character we know so little about falls near last on our list, for the obvious reasons -- though we now know what leads Rebecca and Miguel (John Huertas) together after Jack’s untimely and seemingly tragic death, our loyalty lies with the Pearson patriarch (at least for the moment). From what we’ve seen, Miguel is a loyal friend to Jack (letting him kick back on his couch when he stirs up trouble with Rebecca), but somewhere along the line that loyalty may have quavered.
After his second season meltdown, Kevin fell right down to the end of our ranking. Similarly to his sister, Kevin’s issues are primarily self-involved. We’re finally seeing a bit more about his connection to his father, but we could have done without the prolonged “Manny” drama. His issues come to a head in a way that wipes away the admirable qualities we once saw in him, at least for now. Grappling with addiction, Kevin delves in a cliché one-night stand (to steal a prescription), drives under the influence (with Randall's daughter in the car) and throws a grenade at the life he just reconciled with ex-wife Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge). It's clear this is a low for Kevin, but we're hopeful he'll find his way back with the help of his siblings.