This Is Us is likely one of the most popular new series to hit the airwaves in the 2016–2017 television season. With its gripping drama, intense story and timelines and excellent writing, it's small wonder that the show continues to garner a steady audience with each passing week. But who are the people behind the characters? What is it about the people in this ensemble cast that helps make #ThisIsUs so captivating?
Jack (Milo Ventimiglia)
As a construction foreman struggling with alcoholism, Jack Pearson is a loving family man who, along with his wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore), adopts a third child after their third child (they had been expecting triplets) was stillborn. He dreams of opening a construction firm one day (Big Three Homes), but would also prefer to have a steady income for his family, particularly after learning that he and Rebecca are expecting triplets. He has a strained relationship with his father, so much so that when he asks for money to buy a house, he tells his father it's to pay off gambling debts as his father doesn't know he's married.
Ventimiglia is probably best known for his role on the television show Gilmore Girls, where he played Jess Mariano. He reprised the role for the revival series, Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.
Rebecca (Mandy Moore)
Jack's wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) is madly in love with him, and when she learns they are pregnant with not one but three babies, the excitement over becoming parents wins the day. When one of the three kids is stillborn, they adopt Randall, who was dropped off at the same hospital and had the same birthday as the triplets. Rebecca, knowing exactly who Randall's biological father was, made the decision to keep William and Randall apart as a way of protecting Randall. When Jack dies during the kids' teenage years, Rebecca keeps his ashes in the house. She later marries his best friend Miguel.
Actress Mandy Moore has a growing resume to her list of credits, including singer and the still-popular teen drama A Walk To Remember, co-starring Shane West.
Randall (Sterling K. Brown)
As the adopted child of Jack and Rebecca Pearson, Randall struggles at times with powerful anxiety attacks, which Jack helps him manage by encouraging him to keep breathing. As a young boy, he was sent to Hanes Academy in order to properly challenge him with his education. He was also a football player, wearing #36. He finds his birth father on his 36th birthday, and has a real love of Thanksgiving, recreating the Thanksgivings of his past, which included a 3.4 mile hike and watching Police Academy 3.
Audiences may recognize Sterling K. Brown for his work on Person of Interest and, more recently, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Kate (Chrissy Metz)
As the only daughter of the Pearson family, Kate struggles with self-esteem issues, being obese and estranged from her mother. She used to be her brother Kevin's personal assistant, until he decides to move to New York and fires her in an attempt for her to build her own life without it revolving around him. Kate tries to lose weight, and decides that she needs to join a support group, where she meets Toby (Chris Sullivan). Although she had decided that she wouldn't get involved with anyone until she got her weight issues under control, she falls for Toby. Unfortunately, she breaks up with him because he can't control his diet, which means he wouldn't be a good support system while she attempts to get healthy. After his heart surgery, Toby and Kate decide to get married.
While Kate Pearson might be Chrissy Metz's biggest role to date, she is also a familiar face to television audiences. She played Chunk in My Name Is Earl, Shoshanna in Huge, and appeared in American Horror Story: Freak Show as Barbara/Ima Wiggles.
Kevin (Justin Hartley)
Kevin rounds out the Pearson siblings, and as the actor of the family, he's trying to strike out on his own and prove just how serious an actor he is. He abruptly quit his long-running sitcom The Manny when the producers wouldn't make his role more nuanced, and he moved to New York, firing sister Kate as his personal assistant in the process. He won the lead role in the first play he auditioned for, and ends up self-funding the performance. He was once married to Sophie, and when things don't work out with both Olivia and Sloane, he tries to reconnect with Sophie.
Justin Hartley is a familiar face to television audiences, having starred in Passions, Smallville (as recurring character Oliver Queen), and in The Young and the Restless.
Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson)
As Randall's fiercely loyal wife, Beth brings outright honesty to the table. There were few secrets in her house growing up, as she lived in very close quarters with 14 people in a three-bedroom home. As a result, while she may be unforgiving when it comes to secrets, she is fiercely protective of her own space. She gives Rebecca an ultimatum when she realizes the connection between William and Randall: Rebecca needs to tell Randall, or Beth will.
Susan Kelechi Watson first garnered a great deal of attention for her work in the television series Louie before getting picked up for This Is Us.
Toby (Chris Sullivan)
Kate's fiancé and soon-to-be husband Toby is the seeming antithesis of Kate; where she is self-conscious in her own skin, Toby is confident. Toby falls hard for Kate, but when his snacking and love of junk food threatens to perhaps derail her hard-fought for plans of weight loss, the relationship threatens to implode. That is, until Toby tells her he can live without pizza and chips but can't live without her.
Actor Chris Sullivan goes through quite a bit when it comes to his preparation to play the affable Toby. He wears a fat suit in order to convince his audience that he really is a man struggling with his weight. He's also set to appear in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and appeared in another hit show, Stranger Things.
Heartrending, Heartwarming — 'This Is Us' Is About Humanity
With its shifting perspectives and fluid timeline, one might have originally thought that This Is Us would have had difficulties in finding its voice or its audience. In fact, the opposite is true; the show has found a solid niche in the 18 to 49 demographic and has become the No. 1 new show on NBC this year. Recently renewed for two more seasons (and expected to be around for more), This Is Us offers viewers a glimpse of themselves in these fictionalized characters, and it couldn't be more heartwarming.
Which character do you most empathize with on This Is Us?