‘This Is Us’: All of those Food Scenes Were More Important Than You Think

A new episode of This Is Us gave fans more questions than answers this week. However, the subtleties surrounding food were one big hint that viewers might have missed. Let’s take a look at all of the food scenes and what they might mean. 

'This Is Us' Season 5 stars Chrissy Metz as Kate and Justin Hartley as Kevin
‘This Is Us’ Season 5 stars Chrissy Metz as Kate and Justin Hartley as Kevin | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

‘This Is Us’: Kate’s issues revolve around food

When Kate (Chrissy Metz) was very young, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) made negative comments about food as it related to weight. During one of those moments, she told Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) that she didn’t want ice cream because he wouldn’t be able to pick her up then. They were always small innuendos that stemmed from what she grew up hearing and believing as a woman. In turn, Rebecca taught her daughter that women should be skinny. 

'This Is Us' Season 5 Mandy Moore as Rebecca and Chrissy Metz as Kate
‘This Is Us’ Season 5 Mandy Moore as Rebecca and Chrissy Metz as Kate | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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“I think it’s important to consider that these were the messages delivered to women throughout the ’50s, ’60s and beyond – likely when Rebecca would have been a young, impressionable girl,” one fan wrote on Reddit. “I think they probably did it on purpose to highlight her subconscious disdain for ‘bigger’ women. It’s likely the same underlying issue that causes friction between her and Kate, possibly without her even realizing it?”

As Kate grows up, she learns to hide food, and then even subconsciously projects this onto her son. When she chooses to hide the fact from Toby that their son, Jack, tried avocado without him, the food issues come up again. Kate’s life’s general theme is that she has always grown up lying about and hiding food. 

Food becomes a symbol of love and tradition with the other characters on the show

In season 4, the symbolism around Thanksgiving continues to grow. Not only is the Pilgrim Rick hat back, but a new tradition emerges. The Pearsons’ long lost Uncle Nicky comes to his first Thanksgiving celebration and realizes that his brother kept his memory alive through stories and a particular song. 

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In return, he brings back the tradition he and his brother had of feasting on five pounds of shrimp cocktail on Thanksgiving. The Pearsons feast on the hor devours. Then many years in the future, we see that young baby Jack kept the tradition alive. He and his family also enjoy shrimp cocktails every Thanksgiving.

In ‘This Is Us’ Season 5 characters continue to show love through food

This Is Us Season 5; Episode 3 opens with a young girl fishing with her grandfather. Later we watch the same pair cooking together, and the conversation turns to expressing love through food. This installment opens with catching food together and closes with the grandfather admitting he was trying to impress Randall’s birth mother, Laurel (Jennifer C. Holmes), with his cooking skills.

Similarly, Madison (Caitlin Thompson) also tries to express her love for Kevin (Justin Hartley) by making him gluten-free pancakes. However, he doesn’t eat the breakfast she made, and the two end up discussing their issues with food later on in the episode. It turns out that Kevin also has difficulty with his body image, not unlike his twin sister, Kate. 

'This Is Us' Season 5: Eris Baker as Tess and Lyric Ross as Deja
‘This Is Us’ Season 5: Eris Baker as Tess and Lyric Ross as Deja | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) also makes pancakes for her family, but only Randall (Sterling K. Brown) seems to love them. Her two teenage daughters, Deja (Lyric Ross) and Tess (Eris Baker) have no interest in the loving meal their mother made.

The episode’s underlying theme was that many members of the family try very hard to express their love to each other through food. However, a few have rooted issues with food from their childhood. So, they cannot receive love until they solve their inherent problems.