Following their vision. As This Is Us comes to an end, creator Dan Fogelman opened up about the NBC show’s true message — and how that influenced the decision to have Rebecca (Mandy Moore) die ahead of the series finale.
“To me, the show has been about many things and a lot of people can lock on to different elements of the show. They have favorite characters, they have favorite issues we explore, the dynamics we explore,” Fogelman, 46, explained during an interview with Variety on Tuesday, May 17.
The showrunner noted that the plan is to explore all aspects of a family member passing away, adding, “When I zoom out, I’ve always thought that the show was a lot about the loss of a parent and eventually losing parents. And so that isn’t just about the moment of loss, it’s about which comes after.”
During a new episode of This Is Us, which aired on Tuesday, the Pearsons gathered to say goodbye to Rebecca. As Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) all came together to be with their bedridden mother, Rebecca saw herself as a young woman on a train. As she listened to her family’s final words, she reunited with Randall’s biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones), Dr. K (Gerald McRaney), second husband Miguel (Jon Huertas) and, finally, her late first husband, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia).
According to Fogelman, the final episode of the series will also offer a glimpse at life outside of loss. “So much attention that was put on ‘How does Jack die?’ early on. How Jack dies and the big episode where, in fact, he does die. But so much of our series is about what happens after. And I always wanted and always had planned for the final episode of the series to revolve around the epilogue of the continuing story of the family rather than the moment,” he continued.
Following the emotional conclusion to her character, Moore, 38, opened up about saying goodbye to Rebecca after six seasons. “This poor woman who lost a child, who lost a spouse, then finds herself at this juncture of her life in cognitive decline, with a degenerative brain disease. It’s just very, very sad,” the New Hampshire native told the outlet. “But I also feel buoyed by the fact that we’re able to represent this situation that millions of people find themselves and their families in and for people to feel a sense of community and not feel like an anomaly and hopefully feel a little less alone.”
Moore added, “The way that we were able to model this family caregiving situation, it’s an important conversation and I don’t think that it’s one that’s had enough. In that sense, I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s another legacy that hopefully our show will be remembered for.’”
The final episode of This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesday, May 24, at 9 p.m. ET.
Scroll down for more revelations about why Rebecca’s death had to happen in the penultimate episode: