Good dad Jack Pearson rings true – but, sadly, not for everyone

This Is Us – Amazon Prime

After a horrendous labour in which one of their triplets is stillborn, idealistic white parents Jack and Rebecca Pearson acquire a newborn black child. The baby, Randall, was left on the steps of the local fire station and brought to hospital by firemen that very day. Since the Pearsons were expecting three babies, they naturally adopt Randall on the spot (as you do), and This Is Us is a comedy-drama TV series that follows their lives from birth in 1980 to the present day.

First born Kevin (Justin Hartley) is a talented narcissist, football hero and actor. Kate (Chrissy Metz) is a big girl with a big heart and food issues, and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) grows into a maths and science nerd with a touch of OCD. The series leaps around in time like Dr Who in a malfunctioning Tardis, with multiple actors per child, period clothing, music and sets.

The cast of This is Us.Credit:

Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) is the kind of dad who drives to his daughter’s school just to watch her play, but he is not without flaws. Jack is an alcoholic who can be wayward in his attentiveness to his wife, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), until she confronts him and he evolves into dad of the year.

What does ring true about the show is Jack’s obvious affection for his kids. The many scenes of him hugging and rolling around with his delighted, squealing “triplets” deeply affected me. I realised I have no memories whatsoever of my dad holding me as a child, or telling me regularly that he loved me. I think he did love me, in his way, but as a male born in the 1920s he found the expression of affection impossible. Or perhaps that’s just what I choose to believe. Surely every child, at every age, wants a dad like Jack Pearson.

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