If you tuned into last week's premiere of NBC's This Is Us, you likely laughed, cried and totally related to (at least) one character on the show. For many of us, that character was Kate.
Watching Kate cry on the bathroom floor after slipping and falling while weighing herself — on her 36th birthday, to boot — hit home for so many men and women who have ever felt insecure about the way they appear to other people. Her tears were the tears of all of us who understand the struggle of remaining self-confident — even when it seems like the world is against you.
While Kate touched a large part of the This Is Us audience, not everyone was happy with the portrayal of the character's plight. Many viewers felt the character encompassed every negative stereotype about overweight people and wondered why an overweight actor couldn't have a story line that didn't revolve around food addiction and being fat.
@emilynussbaum I really wanted This Is Us to not go the fat character bc no will power, hates self, & will focus solely on losing weight.— Jamie Canaves (@Oh_Dinky) September 26, 2016
The twist at the end of THIS IS US got me so I'll watch the next ep but the "tragic overeater" fat woman storyline so far is worrisome.— Jennifer Lynn Jones (@jennyjonesie) September 25, 2016
I just watched This is Us. I liked it, but I hate that fat people can only have storylines about being fat.— Angelheaded Hipster (@MIZ_PHD) September 26, 2016
I’m watching This is Us to see how bad it is and wow it’s bad. Literally every offensive fat stereotype you can imagine 20 minutes in.— Books and Joe (@booksandjoe) September 21, 2016
And we're not gonna lie, either. Those stereotypes are definitely there. Although Chrissy Metz — the actress who plays Kate on the show — understands where the backlash is coming from, she chatted with SheKnows about why she still thinks Kate's story line is important and needs to be seen.
"You know, it’s really hard for me because I have friends who are like, 'Why do we have to talk about the weight? Why can’t you just be an actor who happens to be overweight in the show and you’re moving on with your life?' and I completely understand that. Eventually I know that that will be the case — there will just be plus-size actors and it’s not going to be talked about," Metz said. "However, this role is written about a woman who — it was loosely based on (This Is Us creator) Dan Fogelman’s sister — who struggled with her weight and her self-worth. And a lot of people do, and I have myself, as a human being. So this is a story that needs to be told because there are people who find their self-worth in the number on the scale."
Metz went on to explain that the backstory behind Kate's struggle will be revealed this season on This Is Us, and it will shed some light on why her story line is an important one to tell.
"You find out why she is the way she is, why she wants to change, and how she’s going to change — but in a healthy way, as opposed to crash dieting or, you know, being miserable and being depressed, because it doesn’t have to be black or white. There’s this gray area," she told us. "So it’s difficult because I know somebody's always going to say something and somebody’s gonna have an opinion — which is great because people are still talking about it — but this is one person’s story and there are millions of stories to be told... it's important to tell all different stories, and stereotypes are real — they come from somewhere. While I know that food is not the issue, it’s the symptom, people fill voids in their lives, and Kate happens to fill it with food. We’ll eventually know why in the series, and how she’s going to handle that, and really get to the core of why she’s done that."
But if you were disheartened by Kate's story line in the premiere episode, don't give up on the series. Even Metz is struggling to come to terms with some of the upcoming plot points — namely the potential for Kate to consider weight loss surgery.
"I don’t feel comfortable with that because I feel that food is the symptom, there’s a bigger issue," Metz said. "So, for me, whether or not Kate decides to do that, it hasn’t really been solidified. But I have said, you know, as Chrissy I don’t condone that — however, there are people who are in dire situations who need to do that, so I don’t judge other human beings because I don't know everyone's story."
All of us at SheKnows are just in total awe of Metz's talent and positive outlook. We can't wait to watch her bring Kate to life in the rest of This Is Us Season 1 — even if we are ugly crying the whole way through.
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