‘This Is Us’: Is Toby Having a Midlife Crisis? Fans Break Down the Evidence

This is Us practically seems to delight in torturing its viewers. We’ve had to watch Rebecca suffer a very slow demise that the show is taking its sweet time to explain. Is it dementia? Alzheimer’s? Why do we even have to be teased about what this supposedly terminal illness is?

And Mandy Moore’s Rebecca isn’t the only one suffering. So is Chris Sullivan’s Toby. Granted, pretty much every character on the show goes through some kind of melodrama. That’s the way This is Us works. But fans are noticing Toby seems to be going through a different kind of breakdown – a midlife crisis. 

Is Toby having an affair? 

Chris Sullivan as Toby
Chris Sullivan as Toby, Baby Jack | Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

This is Us fans on Reddit dissect their favorite show arguably even more thoroughly than Marvel fans pick apart the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A topic starter there posted a theory that is about as long as this entire article. Here are the essentials. 

“I could be wrong, but is Toby older than Kate? If so, he’s right around the infamous “midlife crisis” stage of life that often brings the wandering eyes, sudden need to change appearance, emotional/physical distance, etc. A lot of the time a large increase in stressful life events may trigger these characteristics. I’m only familiar with these concepts because I’ve personally been the victim of an unfaithful spouse, and have also seen it unfold in several other marriages in my circle of friends/family. “

Another viewer responded, “Toby 100% feels guilty and I sometimes feel bad for him because I feel like he gave in to Kate about having a baby because it’s what she really wanted, he did too but with the circumstances they had he was hesitant which is expected. So not only were they worried about miscarriage during the pregnancy but after that the baby is premature and then blind. So it’s like everything he feared could go wrong other than death or another disability has happened. Then to top it all off his wife thinks he’s a selfish emotional cheater and doesn’t like his baby.”

If we could actually see how tall This is Us stacks the deck sometimes, it would probably look like a giant Jenga tower. 

What does the producer say? 

One of the recent episodes was the third of a three-parter called “A Hell of a Week,” with the drama centering around Kate (Chrissy Metz). She was doing her best to raise her blind son Jack, but Toby isn’t much help, being emotionally “unavailable.” As they typically do, EW sat down with producer Isaac Aptaker to go over the episode. 

Aptaker said of Toby “We’ve seen Toby’s lifelong struggle with his own mental health and with depression. They were dealt such a curveball and their son was born with seriously limited vision and Kate’s been able to roll with the punches — for whatever reason she’s been able to adapt and see the silver lining and just decide to be all-in giving her son the life that he deserves.

And Toby has had a much harder time with that. And I think certainly in his history and struggle with depression could be a big factor there.”

Is Jack seeing the light? 

In the February 18 episode, entitled Cabin Fever Toby seemed to have a “breakthrough” with Baby Jack by saving him from choking. But is that kind of common sense reaction really a breakthrough? As EW pointed out, Toby was still letting the baby play with Star Wars figures, never mind that those can be choking hazards. 

Aptaker said, “Yeah, let’s go on record. The official statement from This Is Us is: Do not leave your young children unsupervised with small pieces.”

After all, we saw what happened with This is Us and slow cookers.