The Part of the This Is Us Fire Episode I Couldn’t Bear to Watch

If you’re behind on your TV and haven’t watched the post-Superbowl This Is Us fire episode yet, SLOW YA SCROLL and come back and read this later. I wasn’t about to stay up late enough to watch it on Sunday, even though I looooove This Is Us. I love sleep more. Plus, I had a feeling, since we ALL knew this was going to be the episode where Jack died, that I was going to be upset over it, and I didn’t want to be upset.

So, with much trepidation, I set aside some time on Tuesday (I had a super-busy Monday, ok???) to watch the This Is Us fire episode. I adore the show and all its characters, and I love, love, love Milo Ventimiglia’s character (Rory TOTALLY should’ve picked Jess ten years ago, right??? YES RIGHT) Jack, the loving, just-flawed-enough-to-be-real husband, the devoted dad, the hard-working provider. Although we’ve known since late in the first season that Jack would not survive the Big Three’s childhood, I didn’t feel like that was going to soften the blow of the moment the Pearsons lost him.

And it didn’t. It was like a punch to the gut. Like Rebecca, I couldn’t make it fit into my reality. I would’ve taken a bite out of the candy bar, too.

But that’s not the moment of the episode that upset me the most. I could handle Rebecca’s disbelief, handle watching the panicked medical professionals run around in the background as she selected a snack. I could take Kate’s wails and Randall’s sobs and Miguel’s shock.

And the fire. Though my heart raced, I endured Jack and Kate’s torturously slow trek across a blazing hallway, and each family member’s trip from fiery rooftop to solid ground. It was hard, but I watched it all.

But the part I could not make it through, the part I just HAD to skip – came when Kate started screaming about her dog. I GET that pets are precious to people. But when I realized Jack was going to risk (and probably LOSE) his life over a dog?

I literally panicked. I have anxiety and let’s just say I had a real, actual episode.

You guessed it, — I’m not a dog person. But I am a cat person. I had a cat growing up, always. When my parents put down their old cat when I was a newlywed without asking me if I would take it first, I was extremely angry at them for the first time in my life. I was MAD. I didn’t talk to them for a few days. I would have let her live out her decrepit years with me. So, my husband bought me a kitten for our first anniversary. And then awhile later, another little sweetie.

I SWEAR, I am not cold and dead inside. BUT, if you’re a human, and you have THREE HUMAN CHILDREN, and you DIE because you’re trying to save a DOG?

You made the wrong call. I don’t care how much Kate loved that dog. PRETTY SURE after her dad was dead she would’ve traded the dog for her dad in a heartbeat.

The truth is, I’ve long claimed that we value pet life over human life in our society. A few years ago as a blogger I was involved with a campaign for Toyota where they were giving a car away every day to a non-profit, but there was voting involved. Animal charities won FAR more often than people charities did. It made me crazy. The Facebook voters in that contest proved time and time again that they valued animals over humans — especially humans with disabilities.

(Don’t believe me? Read this testimony from a UK dad trying to raise money for the fatal muscular dystrophy his son has. He’s facing stiff competition from dog charities, while children are dying.)

I don’t blame the This Is Us fire episode for depicting this phenomenon — in fact I think the show proved my point. Human life is far more valuable than animal life. If you have animals, treat them WELL. Love the crap out of them. But for the love of the humans that depend on you, DON’T give up your LIFE for them!

I realize this opinion will be unpopular and I am bracing myself for the furor that will ensue because I have dared to say dogs are not people. But basic fire safety says, “once you’re out, don’t go back in.” If you’re trying to save a HUMAN, I can give you a pass on plunging back into the fire, but our four-legged friends don’t have souls, no matter how badly we want them to.

So, as we remember Jack Pearson, the beloved TV dad who is not a real person, let’s remember with sadness that he’d probably have lived to see his kids graduate high school if he hadn’t gone back in for the dog. And then, like good children of the 80s and 90s sitcoms, let’s apply that TV lesson to real life.

(Oh, and P.S. — I don’t have my cats anymore. In his 20s my husband developed severe animal allergies, even though he had grown up with three dogs, he is now very allergic to dogs, cats, and pretty much any pets with dander. So after he had to be on THREE different asthma medications just to breathe, I decided that his ability to breathe was more important than my love for my pets, and found them new homes.)



Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.

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