‘This Is Us’: Why the Opening Scene of ‘Clouds’ Made So Many People Uncomfortable

One of the glories of This Is Us is that it tackles imperfections in family life without sugarcoating anything. At the same time, it celebrates the magic and emotion of being with family and how those moments supersede anything imperfect.

The recent episode Clouds explored this more in-depth than the show has in a while. At the heart of it was Randall going to a therapist named Dr. Leigh to treat his anxiety. However, there were also the usual flashbacks to gain further insight into the psyches of the Pearson kids.

All of these flashbacks inform audiences every week with a new aspect about what makes up their motivations in life.  It was the opening flashback scene in Clouds where the deepest revelations might have been.

How competitive have the Pearson kids been all along?

Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack
Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack | Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Not much talk about the opening scene in Clouds has been done, other than fans on social media who don’t miss one morsel of detail. As always, Reddit gives a major pulse on what people are thinking, and comments about the opening scene in this episode are more than interesting.

As they noticed, the opening flashed back to the 1990s again when the kids were still in school. With the family sitting around the dinner table, the kids were asked by Jack and Rebecca to compare the grades on their report cards.

Some people found this disturbing since it immediately set a competitive spirit between the kids that may have blown up into bigger problems down the road. Others said they had similar situations in their real family lives and never had lifelong riffs with their siblings.

In the world of the Pearsons, this scene alone might explain so much about how Randall ultimately ended up going to a therapist for anxiety. It may also explain the deepening riff occurring eventually between Randall and Kevin.

Was the comparison of report cards a major parenting mistake by Jack and Rebecca?

One Reddit user above stated it bluntly: “Am I the only one who really hates the opening scene? What kind of weird family tradition was that?? Make the kids sit around the table and analyze their report cards in front of each other? Especially with the discrepancy in their grades. Not a great parenting choice in my book.”

There’s a good argument to be made there about this scene not being the greatest parenting move of all time. Jack, though, basically grew up in a competitive environment himself. He and his brother, Nicky, had to live up to the expectations of their abusive father.

Of course, this spilled over into Jack and Nicky being competitive, with Nicky being the one who felt inferior to his brother for years.

Subconsciously or not, Jack seemed to be doing the same with his kids. Because Randall was adopted, it also made clashing personalities among the kids more of a problem. Randall was an overachiever and became so competitive to do well and take care of things, it obviously shaped how he ended up suffering from anxiety.

Only during his therapy session did he begin to understand this to small degrees. It’s also worth pondering if the flashbacks in the show are fresh in the memories of the Pearson kids as adults.

The audience is privy to things that happened the Pearsons might not remember

Thanks to the flashbacks in This Is Us, everyone can see an omniscient view of the past with assumptions the kids don’t always remember those moments. Then again, the back and forth between the past and present in sometimes the same room can be assumed to be personal flashbacks by the kids.

Will the Pearsons realize the competitive nature among them all led to the feelings they have now for each other? More so, will it help Kevin and Randall see the real psychological reasons behind their eventual falling out?

Therapy will hold the key as everyone is seeing now. What makes the show interesting will be how the kids gradually assess who they are through the past, even though the viewer already knows.