You'd have to be living under a proverbial rock to have not heard at least something about the wildly popular show This is Us. And, due to the unfolding story that will culminate after the Super Bowl, Crock-Pot® brand is taking a hit (I'll explain later).
If you're like me, you've been hooked on This is Us since the first episode. One daughter is with me on this one. My other daughter, not so much. She doesn't see any reason at all to watch a show that basically requires a box of Kleenex® nearly every week (unless you're green like me and just keep hankies handy!). But for many, Tuesday nights just aren't the same when the show doesn't air. We walk around feeling that something is missing.
How is it that the Pearson family sucked us in this way? Perhaps, for some, it was their realism. For others, it was an ideal. Anyone who's struggled with their relationship with their father, in particular, is drawn to Papa Jack's genuine affection for his three children -- two birth children and one adopted. To Jack, they are one-in-the-same. He sees beyond faults and embraces the goodness of each child. Maybe it's because he carries the burdens of his own faults and those of his father's.
Whatever the reason, we love Jack. Despite his alcoholism, he is our ideal in a husband. They are our ideal in a partnership, as Jack and Rebecca truly seem to function as one. Yes, there have been bumps in the road. They even separated for awhile. But maybe that's what appeals to us even more about them. Their tenacity. Their willingness to keep trying. Because underneath it all is not only a deep love for each other, but a genuine friendship. Something, I think, that gets lost in many a marriage as kids and jobs and broken furnaces and backed up sewers and everyday stuff prevents couples from remaining as buddies. But that's not what happened to Jack and Rebecca. You can't imagine one without the other. Yogi Bear and Boo Boo. Bert and Ernie. Jack and Rebecca. Buddies. Friends. Partners.
On last week's episode, we fall in love with Jack even more (was that possible?) as we watch him cleaning up from what was supposed to be the final Super Bowl party before the kids head off to college. We see, we feel, the disappointment in both Jack and Rebecca as one-by-one the Pearson teens choose to be elsewhere that night. After all, the Steelers weren't playing, right? So, on this final Super Bowl Sunday, Jack and Rebecca find themselves alone.
But back to that cleaning up bit I mentioned. What woman out there doesn't want a man who lets her sleep while he puts away the food, sweeps the floor, cleans up the dishes, takes care of the dog... ?? Yes, for many, Jack is the ideal spouse. That's the way he lives his life. And, from what the previews show us, it's how he'll end his life as well -- taking care of the ones he loves.
The episode ends with sparks flying from a Crock-Pot, catching a towel on fire and quickly spreading to the curtains. From the previous episode, we know the battery is out of the smoke detector. And we've known from the start that Jack died while the kids were teens. Add it all up, and we know what's about to happen.
Does Jack die trying to rescue the family dog? Or does he go down to Kevin's room in the basement, thinking his son is sleeping there, when in fact, he was spending the night elsewhere (something Rebecca failed to mention to her husband)? There are some questions. But all that really matters to the viewers is that Jack is going to die in that fire and we're crushed.
For me, it goes a bit deeper. I had trouble sleeping last Tuesday after watching the show and I woke up depressed on Wednesday. It took awhile for me to shake it. Was it just because of a fictional family I care about? No. For me, it's about a fire in 1989 that cost me my own husband, a man who, while I slept, often put away the food, swept the floor, cleaned up the dishes, and took care of the dog. My husband. My partner. My friend.
So, while the rest of you may be snuggled up on the couch with a box of Kleenex on Sunday night, I think it's best I skip the episode... at least for now. My mental health trumps my This is Us addiction. Pearson family, my heart goes out to you. I've been there. And for those of you throwing out your Crock-Pots and removing them from your wedding registries... c'mon, that's just plain silly. Just be safe with all small appliances and for goodness' sake, unplug them!