Okay, I’m sure I’m going to watch tonight’s episode and find out some further heart-wrenching news about the circumstances of this character’s death (oh, spoilers BTW), but I have to go ahead and say it: I just don’t think Jack Pearson of This is Us is such a great guy. Don’t believe me? Good! I look forward to proving you wrong.
Let’s start with the pilot, in which Jack’s fuckery is mercifully limited to a single scene (somehow, I’m not referring to his kidnapping a newborn, but you kind of have to roll with that to watch this show at all). No, I’m referring to the little speech he gives over Rebecca’s extremely pregnant stomach when their doctor tries to gently warn them of the VERY REAL potential complications of giving birth to triplets. Jack not only cuts him off, possibly preventing his wife from hearing some vital medical advice, he then goes on to firmly announce that they will be bringing home THREE BABIES NO MATTER WHAT, because Mr. Architect Jack here has already purchased THREE WHOLE CRIBS and GUESS HOW MANY BABIES YOU NEED TO FILL THREE CRIBS??? (It’s three, you need three babies, because Jack is incorrectly not counting himself as the biggest baby of all). While the sentiment “I’d prefer to have all my children living” is not inherently a bad one, I can’t imagine that what you want right before giving birth is your husband screaming over your crotch like a deranged football coach about a process over which he has absolutely no control. But yeah, no pressure, Bec! Do the hardest thing in the world perfectly three times or just don’t bother coming home, yeah?
Dr. K: I am going to do my best to help you through this complicated medical process.
Jack: PHOEBE DID IT ON FRIENDS NO PROBLEM
For the next few episodes, his Jack-assery (GET IT? K, that’s my one dad joke) is a little more typical TV dad stuff: dabbling with alcoholism, setting up his daughter for some deep-seated daddy issues, and generally gaslighting his overworked wife.
Rebecca: I don’t want our child to be bullied.
Jack: Kate go put on a shirt, your mom thinks you’re fat!!!
But around episode 5, we hit a new peak in my hatred for Jack: we find out that Rebecca, who literally spawned this entire TV show from her womb, DIDN’T EVEN WANT CHILDREN. Not at all, in fact! However, this is no roadblock that Jack can’t solve by publicly berating his wife and punching a stranger in the face, which somehow ends in some bathroom floor baby-making. (Side note: In all their years of married life, have they really just been using condoms every time? Or did we skip a scene where Jack digs around and rips out Rebecca’s IUD?) Meanwhile, we continue seeing how well Jack’s forcibly knocking her up is going for Rebecca a few years down the road: She’s exactly the anxious, lonely housewife she had no interest in being, even while loving her children fiercely and being a wonderful mother. Meanwhile, Jack tries on a brooding face and seems to expect a trophy for not sleeping with his secretary. Aces.
Since I’m getting kind of emotionally exhausted here, and I need to save myself for today’s episode, I’ll speed things up: Jack continues neglecting his wife, drinking too much, and making up weird chants and traditions to ensure his children will be ostracized for life, including a three-mile hike and fake cheese on the best eating day of the year (why God). He continues drinking, throws a shit fit whenever Rebecca leaves the house, and is finally revealed to have been planning the robbery of a bar before Rebecca’s angelic presence saved him. In present day, Jack drunkenly operates more motor vehicles, punches another guy, and further embarrasses his wife.
Rebecca: You would literally be dead in the street were it not for me.
Jack: How bout less talking and more babies from you, eh?
All in all, Jack may rock some decent facial hair and have the sappy speech thing down, but he’s really no different from every other shitty family drama father character we’ve seen. He has a very specific vision of how his life should go, and he has no intention of letting
his wife’s consent and human limitations anything get in his way. So, he makes some very selfish decisions that aren’t his to make and shames the lovely Mandy Moore at numerous turns for not being satisfied and on board for every second down the journey of “Jack’s Master Plan Which Does Not Require Your Approval.” Sorry, but no matter how much his children worship him like a cult leader, I’m not getting on board. #TeamMiguel out.