Kate Pearson may have encountered rejection in the This Is Us season 2 premiere, but it wound up being one of the best things to happen to her so far.
In the season 1 finale, Kate (Chrissy Metz) decided to finally give the whole singing thing a shot, something she had avoided doing for most of her life. When we pick up in season 2, Kate’s ready to take on her first real audition. Initially, she chickens out when she sees her competition — women who are younger and skinnier. But this is This Is Us, so you know that wasn’t the end of the story.
After breaking up a disagreement between her twin brother Kevin (Justin Hartley) and her fiancé Toby (Chris Sullivan), Kate found the confidence to return to the audition and demand that she be heard. The casting agents were reluctant at first, but they acquiesced and let her take the stage to perform “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Alas, she doesn’t even make through the entire first verse before the casting agent interrupts and dismisses her. Obviously, Kate assumes she’s being rejected because of her weight; however, that’s not the case at all.
The truth of the matter is that Kate’s voice just isn’t good enough at this point, something that’s made very apparent after the casting agent has Amber the backup singer tear into a quick cover of the same song to prove a point. “I don’t care what dress size you wear. You’re not good enough, honey,” he says.
Kate could’ve let this setback discourage her, but she doesn’t. “It’s okay because it wasn’t about my weight or my age,” she says to Kevin and Toby after the audition. “It was about my lack of ability, which is fantastic ’cause I can do this. I know I can do this. Just gonna have to work my way up.”
In other words: Challenge accepted.
After a season where it felt like Kate’s character was defined primarily by her weight, it was a nice twist to learn that wasn’t going to be Kate’s biggest obstacle in achieving her goal.
In an interview with EW, creator Dan Fogelman explained why they decided to take Kate in this direction. “We thought that that was the best way to do it. I had that idea for this scene that you saw in my head for a while, which is like at 37 years old, you don’t decide that you want to be a singer, walk into your first audition and become Adele. That’s not how life works. We’re doing a TV show, and that obviously would be extremely fulfilling to our audience, but that’s not how life operates,” said Fogelman. “So we thought it would be interesting to almost sell like that what it’s going to be, and then give her the victory in the smallest way, which is a victory of self-worth and self-confidence — even if it means rejection and heartbreak and starting from the bottom, I am going to figure out my path.”
Fogelman added that he enjoyed seeing the response to Kate’s triumphant rejection. “It was exciting to me in the first five minutes after the show ended, before the chaos began, to see people really responding to that. Because I thought that was just a launching-off point,” he said. “Tonight she got cut off; next week Chrissy really belts and shows what she can do. I’ve shown my own family a clip of it and without any context, they started crying because it’s very powerful.”
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.