‘This Is Us’ Writers Hoped Viewers Didn’t ‘Hate’ Rebecca for Slapping Kate During ‘Heart and Soul’: ‘Years of Tension’

The fifth episode of This Is Us‘ sixth season included a hotly debated titular moment within the writer’s room of the NBC series. The scribes penned a scene between Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Chrissy Metz) they feared would cause backlash from viewers. After a particularly heated discussion, Rebecca slapped her daughter across the face, a moment the writers claimed was a buildup of “years of tension” between them.

Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz during a scene from NBC's "This Is Us."
Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz during a scene from NBC’s “This Is Us” | NBC

The show opened with Rebecca teaching her young daughter how to play the song “Heart and Soul” on the piano, a sweet moment captured by her husband Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) on his video camera.

The scene showed the deep love between mother and daughter, who share a common love of music.

However, after Jack’s death and as Kate (played by Hannah Ziele) entered her teenage years, the once-close bond between the women cracked. Kate rebelled against her mother, and they fought more often than not.

While Rebecca and adult Kate (Chrissy Metz) have come full circle in thier relationship, Kate mused just how much time they lost in those moments. Facing Rebecca’s Alzheimer’s escalation, mother and daughter try to make the most of the moments they have left.

‘This Is Us’ writers say the slap was the release of ‘years of tension’

Mandy Moore and Hannah Zeile photographed during a scene from "This Is Us."
Mandy Moore and Hannah Zeile photographed during a scene from “This Is Us” | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

This Is Us co-executive producer  Julia Brownell, who wrote “Heart and Soul,” discussed the milestones in the relationship-based episode.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Brownell revealed actors Moore and Zeile were “really game” to explore the problematic moment between mother and daughter.

“The slap left a lot of debate in the room,” Brownell said. Rebecca’s reaction came after teenage Kate called her mother a “whore” for going out on a date.

“A lot of us are parents now. We’re looking at it perhaps from a 2021 lens, and this was 1999. I think slapping your child was a slightly different thing. We also remind ourselves that Kate is an adult at this point. This is years of tension between the two of them building up,” Brownell explained.

“We were talking about the scene where Kate really unloads on Rebecca, and I think Dan [Fogelman, the creator of This Is Us] was like, ‘What if she just slaps her?'” the writer clarified the titular moment.

Brownell said that she was glad they included that moment within Rebecca and Kate’s relationship. It helps viewers understand the ebb and flow of their mother and daughter relationship.

Rebecca and Kate now understand each other

Chrissy Metz and Mandy Moore as Kate and Rebecca on the set of "This Is Us."
Chrissy Metz and Mandy Moore as Kate and Rebecca on the set of “This Is Us” | NBC

This Is Us viewers witnessed the love between Rebecca and Kate, even when their relationship wasn’t on track.

Beginning and ending the episode with the women at the piano connected the characters through their love of music.

Brownell claimed Moore and Ziele were at such a “heightened emotional place” after filming the slap scene.

This was followed by Rebecca’s crying phone call to Miguel. Kate understood for the first time how much deep, emotional pain her mother was in.

“They wanted to sit there at that piano together and have that moment because they were feeling it,” said the show’s writer of the actors.

“This is the sixth season of the show. We do a lot of emotional stuff. The crew can be sort of just doing their job at times. But this was one where a lot of people were in tears watching the two of them together at that piano.”

This Is Us will take a two-week hiatus due to NBC’s scheduling of the Winter Olympics.

The series will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. with a brand new episode.

RELATED: ‘This Is Us’ Fans Feel Rebecca’s Last Memory Will Be of Jack and the Big Three: The Reason They Believe Sidewalk Chalk and Pin the Tail on the Donkey Were Brought to Her Deathbed