I don’t watch a ton of TV. Unless its live sports or Big Bang Theory re-runs after the kids have gone to bed, if the TV is on in our house, I’m usually only casually paying attention.
However, there is one show I do not miss: This is Us.
I appreciate this show so much not just for its storytelling, which is about as compelling as any show I’ve ever watched, but also for how the husband and father, Jack (played by Milo Ventimiglia), is portrayed.
Jack is beloved by his family, loves his wife and children, makes mistakes and owns them and works hard to correct them, fights for what’s right, is patient, is positive in the face of adversity, and is loyal.
After years of sitcoms that showed husbands and fathers as bumbling idiots who couldn’t get out of their own way (King of Queens), who constantly exasperated their wives and embarrassed their children (Everybody Loves Raymond), who made mistake after mistake and tried to haphazardly cover it up before finally admitting defeat (Home Improvement), I commend the writers of “This is Us” for finally giving us an example of a good family man on TV.
Perhaps what I like most about the character is how in life and (spoiler alert) in death, Jack still has a positive influence on his wife and childrens’ lives. It also is a painful reminder of the struggles a family experiences when a husband and father is no longer present.
The children characters Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Kevin (Justin Hartley), have all at some point in the show’s two seasons expressed that their fathers’ influence makes them what to be better people, to try harder, to “make their father proud.” Though Jack is a TV show character, the message still rings true: an involved father leaves a legacy, not just in the physical sense of bringing children into the world, but in how those children grow up and see their own value.
In the case of Jack’s character, he did not abandon or leave his family by his own will. As the Super Bowl Sunday episode showed us, Jack suffers a massive heart attack after saving his family from their burning house.
The damage left in the wake of a man that walks out on his family is perhaps even greater, and families must try to comprehend why they “weren’t good enough” to keep him from leaving.
If you don’t watch “This is US,” I recommend that you do. Because there’s finally a TV show that portrays a husband and father as a dedicated family man, and truth be told, Jack’s character makes me take stock of my own life and reflect on how I can be better as well.
When a TV character has you thinking about your own legacy, you know it’s good.