I’m a diehard This Is Us fan. Without fail, every Tuesday evening, I carve out the hour needed to watch and absorb all the magic of this show. Avid watcher, a person who stans the Pearsons, a ride-or-die for the best drama on NBC right now — call me what you will, but I’m all the way in for This Is Us. Well, OK, maybe not all the way, but mostly. What keeps holding me back from completely embracing the show, from top to bottom, is one terrible, loathsome, irredeemable character: Kevin Pearson.
Yeah, I said it.
Kevin sucks. Like, he’s a hardcore terrible human, and basically, I think he needs to be written off this show so that This Is Us can ascend to its truest form of greatness. And believe me when I say that my sincere dislike for Kevin has nothing to do with Justin Hartley’s performance. On the contrary; Hartley turns in a heck of a performance each and every episode in ways that show his skill as an actor. I dislike Kevin because he’s just a generally terrible, selfish, rude, conceited human. How has he been allowed to skate by for this long?
How is Kevin terrible? Let me count the ways. Or at least name some of the most egregious aspects of his character.
He’s conceited to a troubling degree
Kevin’s world revolves around Kevin. It’s extremely rare that he looks outside of himself, and when he does, the empathy he shows for others is fleeting. Perhaps it’s a fault of the writing on the show, or maybe it’s a creative decision made by the team at some point during filming, but it consistently feels like the show leans into and conflates Kevin’s profession as a hot young actor with the fact that he has to be constantly focused on himself, what is best for him and how things best serve him, regardless of whether it will hurt someone else. Since day one, Kevin has always been out for himself (adult Kevin, at least), and we’re now halfway through Season 2 with no signs of his nonsense letting up.
He rarely asks about how the rest of his family is doing
This Is Us loves to tell us that Kevin and Kate share a deep, borderline supernatural connection as twins that allows them to sense how the other is feeling, even if they’re miles away. But you know who is most frequently seen tuning into that twin frequency? Kate. Kevin rarely shows any care or concern for the rest of his family members, with Randall’s crippling panic attack being the rare exception here. Even when we learned that Kate had miscarried, Kevin was too deep in the throes of his own issues (which, OK, were pretty bad, but come on) to even pause for a second and check on her. It’s not that he’s unempathetic to the point of sociopathy, but rare are the times when Kevin can be bothered to give a care about the people he supposedly loves.
He believes the world owes him something
Here’s a fun one: Kevin believes he is owed something from the world and that life has constantly and actively sought to keep him beaten down. I’m not including Kevin’s addiction issues as part of the bigger picture here because that’s a serious concern that is, luckily, getting addressed on the show. That said, This Is Us has illustrated repeatedly that Kevin’s entire life has been spent throwing tantrums and sulking and grimacing his way through the world, hoping that someone would give him what he wants. And when he didn’t get it, or when life intervened — as was the case when he broke his leg and could no longer play football — Kevin has chosen to lean into that chip on his shoulder, wrecking a relationship or selfishly doing the wrong thing, if only to make the point that he feels he’s been mistreated. In reality, Kevin has continually failed to adapt or to appreciate the good things in life, and at this point, when he’s nearing 40, it’s hard to care about his problems or hope that he’ll change.
He’s unable to let go of old grudges
And speaking of old habits dying hard, Kevin loves to hold a grudge. His three favorites, which he continues to pick open like a scab and re-inflame, are the ones he has with Randall, Rebecca and Miguel. Ooh boy, does Kevin love to channel his anger at the world and dissatisfaction with himself like a ray gun at these three actually great humans. Sure, he’s made inroads with each of them, but frankly, he’s done a lot of damage over a long period of time and he needs to learn he can’t keep treating people terribly for perceived ills that he’s managed to inflate time and time again without some consequences.
What I’m driving at here is that, at the end of the day, Kevin is the worst Pearson. He’s toxic, he’s terrible and he should just take a hike.