This Is Us Review: The Pool (Season 1 Episode 4)

This Is Us has continuously shown the true side to being an adult from every angle. Whether you’re struggling with being a parent and deciding what’s right for you and your kids, dealing with your weight and body image struggles, struggling to find your career path, or trying to discover where you come from and where you belong, each of the characters has something to offer for everyone.

This Is Us Season 1 Episode 4, “The Pool,” showed the hardest side of having three children for Rebecca and Jack. There was no doubt that raising “The Big Three” would be hard, but it came to be much harder than they’d originally anticipated.

The saddest part of this show is Kevin, Kate, and Randall are still dealing with the issues they had as children at age 36.

Kate’s biggest issue has always been her weight and self-esteem, and the glimpse into her childhood struggle with the weight, the disappointment she felt from her parents, and the bullying she received from her peers completely justifies the state she’s in as a 36-year-old woman. Her insecurities have always been there, and her journey is going to be finding a way to be comfortable with herself.

Whether Toby is helping or hurting that journey has yet to be seen. They’re cute, he’s helping her let go, but she has to learn to do this by herself, too. If she can only get comfortable with Toby’s help, what is she going to do when she’s gone? She’ll fall right back into old habits.

Randall’s journey with his biological father is only emphasized by the flashback to their summer community pool day. Being the black child in a white family and a white community took its toll on Randall, which is even shown by his haircut. Not only did he feel like an outcast in his own family, he was inadvertently made into an outcast with the black community in his city by his parents that never interacted outside of their usual circle.

Kevin’s struggles might not be a apparent as Kate, Randall, and past-Rebecca’s, but they’re just as prevalent. He craves attention, and he’s finally seeing that all attention is not good attention. This issue is shown by the simple pool day: Rebecca and Jack, worried about Kate and Randall at that moment, don’t pay attention to Kevin as he wades into the deep end of the pool and almost drowns.

He almost died, and his parents didn’t notice. It may seem like a selfish struggle, but for a child that just wants to see the same affection that his siblings need to receive to stay happy and confident, it’s a big deal to feel like the least-loved child. Present day Kevin is still struggling with this, even though he has his relationship with Kate, it’s clear that he lacks one with his mother, though the question is why? Could it be because of Rebecca’s relationship with Miguel after Jack’s apparent death? Or resentment because of his childhood?

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But no one’s struggles are harsher than Rebecca’s. Mandy Moore is a dream to watch, and paired with Milo Ventimiglia, they just make the perfect pair. Jack and Rebecca’s parenting skills are far from perfect, but they’re trying, and they’re learning. Usually parents mess up with the first child and try to fix it with the others, but when you have three children at the same time, that’s three times as many mistakes.

She’s so focused on making Randall feel like part of the family and keeping him happy amidst the inner tension in their family that it consumes her. Then, she also has to worry about Kate’s weight and her happiness, but she lets Kevin slide. She focuses on keeping Kevin civil with Randall, but doesn’t show her affection to him in the same way as the others, so going forward, she’ll have to really keep an eye on Kevin.

If the present day is any indication, though, she fails.

This Is Us continues to break barriers and provide a sad, charming, inspirational family story that has had the show building in viewers since its premiere. If your friends aren’t watching this show, make them. It’s the perfect story about being an adult, a real adult, and dealing with life’s many struggles through characters that are all dealing with one of their own.

This Is Us continues Tuesday at 9/8c on NBC.

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