Serious question: Why don’t the Big Three have any friends? It’s the one major blind spot in This Is Us that doesn’t make sense.
For those of us who watch This Is Us (and roll into work with bloodshot eyes every Wednesday), we watch the smash hit series because it’s realistic. In many ways, This Is Us holds a mirror up to the human experience and allows each viewer to see a piece of themselves in one, two, or all of the Pearsons.
But if you’re watching closely, then you might have picked up on the one glaringly obvious aspect that couldn’t be more unrealistic: How come the Big Three don’t have a single friend to their name? Hmmm? Why, oh, why don’t they have someone without the surname “Pearson” to rely on? We’re far enough along into the This Is Us mythology that friends would have been mentioned or introduced. But where are these secondary characters — the present day Miguels and Shelleys — that could alleviate a ton of narrative headaches? Kevin, Kate, and Randall desperately need confidantes, sounding boards, and emotional emergency contacts outside of their family tree.
Think about it. In the most recent episode, This Is Us traveled back in time to the Big Three’s twenties, a decade we hadn’t yet seen them in. Once again, the Pearson trio are fending for themselves in the big, bad world with no one but each other and their romantic partners to confide in. For this reason, Randall’s mounting anxiety in the days leading up to Tess’ birth force him to unload his worries on a kind, unsuspecting hardware store worker. Yes, it led to a cute (if not maudlin) story, but why couldn’t Randall reach out to a friend?
One episode earlier, Kate sits on the news that she’s [SPOILER ALERT] pregnant with her first child during a weight loss support group meeting. Rather than share her concerns with Toby or her mother or even Sophie for crying out loud, she unleashes fury on her support group nemesis. Kate later reveals her pregnancy to the woman, and the scene felt implausible. Are we really to believe that a woman would get into a fender bender with someone she loathes with a passion and divulge her most pressing personal matter?Photo Credit: This Is Us/NBC, Ron Batzdorff Image Acquired from NBC Media Village
Of course, there’s the argument that, in adulthood, it becomes harder to keep the friends you have met in childhood, adolescence, and college, and even harder to collect new ones. At 37 years old, the Big Three are pretty much set in their ways. They have their careers (sometimes), they have their stories, and they have each other. All of the things they do have just work to highlight the one unrealistic gaping hole missing from their otherwise fruitful lives.
Also, with a cast as large as that of This Is Us and a story as tight and time limited, there’s no room for extra stragglers. As much as we would love to get to know the people on the outskirts of the Pearson orbit, it’s simply not necessary for the story Dan Fogelman is telling. Even Kevin’s first roommate in Los Angeles came and went in a matter of a couple scenes. When it comes to the Pearsons, they’re not here to make friends. They’re here to make us cry.
But when push comes to shove, isn’t it weird that the Big Three don’t have any friends? It’s weird, right? In a world where we’re raised on lighthearted romantic dramedies (and use rom-com-esque phrases like “In a world…”), we’re conditioned to seeing the archetypal “best friend” character tagging along and lending the sage advice the lead needs. And you better believe Kevin, Kate, and Randall could use a quippy Judy Greer BFF pronto. Now that you’ve realized the adult Big Three don’t have friends, it’s all you’ll notice in future episodes. You’re welcome.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.