Favorite Fictional Characters, #375: Kevin Pearson
Updated: Feb 20, 2022
This is Us is schmaltzy. It's treacly. It's saccharine mixed with honey poured over platitudes. It's a soap opera, an afterschool special in prime time. And yet we keep watching, following the twists and turns of this patchwork American family. The fractured timeline is part of the appeal, jerking us from the present day to the rice paddies of Vietnam to the bad clothing choices of the '80s to the half-glimpsed future. The menagerie of characters is mostly enjoyable too, though the Pearson clan seems largely an overwrought bunch, prone to emotional overreaction, bad decisions, and inexplicable self-deification. The Pearsons are very convinced that the Pearsons are awesome and strong and loving and tight-knit when evidence keeps mounting to the contrary.
So who is my favorite of the bunch? Is it the perfect dad Jack, a few years and one greasy mustache removed from being Rory's smirky, jerky boyfriend? Is it Mandy Moore's open-mouthed, teary-eyed Rebecca? Whiny woe-is-me Kate? Preening paragon of virtue Randall the carpetbagger? Perpetually irritated, talk-to-the-hand Beth? I do like poor sidecar Miguel and uberpatient Toby, and Zoe's character has promise. But my favorite is Kevin.
Why? Why Kevin, the selfish alcoholic drama prince? I like him because in a family of train wrecks his wrecks are the most spectacular. He's the one capable of torpedoing his acting career because of arrogance and addiction. He's the one capable of alienating his clingy siblings. He's the one who inflicts the most damage on himself and others through his deep insecurities and sense of victimization. In a show driven by bad decisions, nobody decides badly like Kevin. If you're going to play the game, you might as well play for keeps.