Of all the memes and articles I’ve seen about the NBC show This Is Us none of them address the geography of the modern day Pearson family, and I can’t figure out why. I have a thing about plot holes; I can get past many of them, but some, like this one in Frozen, are too careless to ignore, and now the writers of This Is Us have pushed it to a whole new level. While this is certainly not a critical issue in any sense of the word, it sure is distracting.
Pittsburgh and New Jersey are six hours apart. Yet, in the show, the characters pop between locations as if it’s only a six-minute drive – and it’s driving me nuts. Maybe I’m extra sensitive to this inaccuracy because I’ve done that exact drive – with small children in the back – way too many times to count. Oh, how I wish I could have cut to a new scene and be at our destination, like the Pearson clan.
Maybe in a future episode, they’ll explain that they have a private jet or time hopping abilities. We’ll see. In the meantime, here are some of the moments they’ve gone wrong.
The Pearson kids were raised in Pittsburgh. Adult Randall lives in New Jersey, and it appears that his mother, Rebecca, and her second husband, Miguel, do, too. They pop over to Randalls’ before heading into the city for a Broadway show. They come for Thanksgiving dinner and other events without appearing to be visiting from out of town. But somehow, as I sit here catching up on the episode where Jack finally dies (That sounds callous, but come on, they’ve been milking this one forever), I see Adult Kevin talking to Rebecca in her kitchen. Then, he’s effortlessly sitting under the tree where they sprinkled his father’s ashes in Pittsburgh, and before we know it, he’s back at his mom’s to watch the Super Bowl with her. And, yes, this is all supposed to take place on the same day.
So maybe I’m wrong and Rebecca really does still live in Pittsburgh. Then how does Adult Kevin, after hitting rock bottom in a visit back to his high school in Pittsburgh, show up at Randall’s New Jersey house that same evening asking for help? Maybe this is just another Kevin issue? Admit it, he’s a drag.
This isn’t the first show to play it fast and loose with location. The series 24, which had a countdown clock timing the twenty-four hours of each season, was comically scrutinized for having its characters traverse Los Angeles in record time, never encountering LA traffic, even at rush hour. At least that show was meant to take place in the same city.
This Is Us doesn’t have an excuse. The writers could have kept Randall in Pittsburgh. They could have had the Pearsons grow up in New Jersey. For all the clever plot twists and heart-string tugging storylines, they could have had someone in the writer’s room pull out a map.