Like most of America, I am captivated by This is Us. The non-linear story, the incredible acting, and most significantly, the connection one generation has upon the next. And like most of America, I recognize that the beloved father, Jack, is heading for his demise. What kind of English teacher would I be if I didn’t recognize the serious foreshadowing NBC is providing the viewer. A wink from a cute waitress, ordering yet another drink –America is fixated.
So, I have decided it is timely to write this while Jack Pearson is still in America’s good graces. He is fact a fictional character, portrayed with ‘superhero’ qualities as the patriarch of his family, which seem almost too ideal. Really, even E news did a story on this very topic (http://www.eonline.com/ca/news/827518/is-this-is-us-jack-too-perfect).
However, a friend of mine recently commented that my husband was “like a Jack.” I had never given it much thought. Upon further investigation, it turns out – my friend is correct. My husband is absolutely a Jack.
Beyond the shared beard, which for my husband is less about living in the 70s and more about being too tired to shave, the devotion to their family can not be celebrated enough. The world may think the fiction is too implausible, but I can attest to the accuracy of a real man.
Jack is devoted to his marriage. He works hard to be the best version of himself for Rebecca. He orchestrates a grand night for Rebecca by returning to their original apartment to rekindle their marriage. My husband truly treats marriage as a partnership. He even knows when I need to go to Target – by myself. He once planned an entire surprise night in the city (dinner with friends, Broadway show) the works. But I was too stressed out as a new mom and made him tell me every detail in advance and made him promise he would never do anything nice for me again. He dutifully ignored me.
While many are connected to the character of Jack Pearson because of the physique of Milo Ventimiglia, many have told my husband he looks just like the David – from the neck up. Jack proves his physical prowess at the world’s most extreme Karate class, while doing push ups with his son on top of him. My husband just today, single handedly held down each of my screaming children in the Dentist chair – without even breaking a sweat.
He is a man that is a role model for his children. Jack can lessen Randall’s anxiety, just as my husband can redirect a sensory overload from my daughter. He too would rock out to Madonna if it made his daughter smile. And from birth, he has taught them the rules and the importance of football. He too models a life where one should “laugh so freely”. However, he mostly does this at his own jokes, just before he gets to the punch line. A favorite character trait of many.
But the quality that makes my husband most like the imaginary Jack, is his ability to make every moment memorable. While we have not been stuck in a cabin on Thanksgiving, we have had the most untraditional path that two people could set out for. Just like a young Rebecca and Jack, drinking beer and watching the game, we too once lived a life of leisure.
That was a life before tragic deaths, medical concerns, and the forever altering diagnosis of our child. That was before the sleepless nights, the bills, the paperwork, and the new language to acquire. That was before learning how to remain that couple when all statistics try to pull you apart. It has been a life that reassures us that as long as you have your partner, you can get through everything.
Jack Pearson is fictional, but I get to wake up every morning next to the real thing.
And, if he is Jack. I think that makes me, Mandy Moore.