This Is Us has been one of the best TV shows I have found in a long time, and I am so sad to see it end! Even though it's a fictional story, it's based on a lot of real-life situations and struggles. Each one is beautifully navigated by the writers, directors, producers, and actors.
Below are the top 4 things we can learn from these stories.
#1. Love isn't always enough to save a relationship.
Have you ever heard the phrase, "Love conquers all"? Or what about "All you need is love"?
I've maintained for years that sometimes love isn't enough. So what could possibly be stronger than love?
A few that always come to my mind are selfishness, narcissism, sometimes addiction, and uncontrolled mental illness.
Below are two examples from the show.
Kate and Toby ("Katoby") are a perfect example. They had enormous love for each other, even as their relationship was ending. Kate was finding purpose and joy in her Los Angeles job, and Toby was finding hope and respect in his San Francisco job. These were feelings that each of them needed deeply. And there's nothing wrong with wanting or feeling those things. They are good things!
Unfortunately, neither one of them thought they could find the same happiness in another city. So no matter how much love they had for each other, nobody would agree to give up their dream job and move to the other's city.
Randall's birth mom, Laurel, battled her inner demons for years—drug use, feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and shame.
Like many moms (including my birth mom) who decide to put their baby up for adoption, the desire for their child to have a chance at a better life eclipses the maternal love they feel. Giving up their baby is often a selfless act of love—even though they might want to keep the child, they know they can't be the kind of parent their baby deserves.
#2. Sometimes, loving someone means walking away.
Just because you feel love for someone doesn't mean you should be together. Two great examples in the show are:
Young(ish) Miguel and Rebecca
After Jack's death, Miguel and Rebecca became really close friends. Then they fell in love with each other. Miguel could have rejected the job in Houston to pursue a relationship with Rebecca, but her kids would have hated him for it.
They were mourning the unexpected loss of their father, and it would have been a bad look for Jack's best friend to start dating his widow. After a couple of decades had passed, the grief had normalized and at this point, the kids wanted their mom to be happy.
Although I hated watching Miguel leave Rebecca on that porch, it was the right thing to do.
Kevin and Zoe
This relationship also falls under #2. Love for each other wasn't enough to save their relationship. But the other element is that even though Zoe loved Kevin, she knew that no matter what he said, he really did want children. And she loved him enough to want that for him, too. She knew she wasn't willing to fill that desire, so she ended their romantic relationship.
#3. Growing up with a good adoptive family doesn't nullify the pain of being adopted.
Hopefully we can all agree that the Pearsons—although imperfect—are a wonderful and loving family.
So why did Randall have such a desperate need to know his birth father?
As an adopted child myself, I think there were two main reasons:
First, most adopted people struggle throughout their lives with a myriad of emotions: from hurt and anger, to gratitude, to feelings of rejection and abandonment. Since we don't want to hurt our adoptive family's feelings by admitting these things, we keep these emotions buried internally.
Second, we often want to meet our biological mom or dad because we spend our lives feeling like our identity is missing a puzzle piece. How can we fully know ourselves when we don't know our roots?
No matter how much love Randall received from the Pearsons, he still wanted to be known and accepted by his birth parent. In his case, it was his birth father he wanted. In my case, I always longed for my birth mother. Perhaps we most desire the parent who matches our own gender.
#4. Nothing is more important than family.
In the final season, Kevin realizes that he doesn't really have friends outside of his family and Cassidy. So he shows up for Cassidy when she needs someone the most (after her accident).
As Rebecca was living her last few days, it was her family that came to be with her. Her family was by her side as she took her last breath. Family was so important that she even waited for Kate to arrive before allowing her soul to depart this earth.
That's how important family is. They're the ones who will be there for us in our worst moments and in our end moments.
But I want to make two crucial points here:
However you define "family", the relationships should be healthy.
Family isn't just blood. It can include members from adoption, exes, friends—anyone you can call in an emergency and you know without a doubt that they'll drop everything and come running.
When I say family is the most important thing, I'm talking about normal, imperfect, healthy relationships. I don't mean toxic relationships with people who are abusive, manipulative, narcissistic, selfish, and don't care that they hurt people. It's important to leave those relationships, even if they're your blood.
Goodbye, This Is Us !
Did I miss any lessons that you learned from the series? Are there any shows I should watch that feel similar to this one?
If so, leave a comment!