This Is Us - Season 3 Episode 3 - Because We’re Men

This episode had flavors of gender role conversation spread all throughout. From the beginning Rebecca and Jack seem displeased with the way their parents interact. Rebecca desires more than being a house wife for herself and is interested in things most girls her age wouldn’t attempt. Jack disapproves of the disrespect his father shows his mother and wants more for his mom. Both seem beyond their time when it comes to whose job is whose in the home. In fact, this different way of seeing things seems to be something that unites them early on. The scene of the two of them washing dishes together in Jack’s family friend’s kitchen is foreshadowing to the kind of home they worked to create later on.

This recognition of shared roles and responsibilities is counteracted by the brief yet profound conversation that Toby and Randall have in the waiting room while Kate is in surgery. Randall starts to open up about his anxiety after Toby can’t seem to keep his leg from shaking with nerves. This opens the opportunity for Toby to share about his depression with Randall. Neither can believe that the other struggles. Toby states that it always seems like Randall is calm and has everything under control while Randall is surprised that the happy-go-lucky Toby suffers from depression. Both seem to respect each other in a whole new way after being made aware of these struggles. They also each make a comment about not being open about these struggles because they’re men and feel the need to act like they are strong. 

While I think most humans have a difficult time admitting their weakness I do think it is more difficult for men. As our society continues to figure out gender roles we continue to communicate to men that they aren’t allowed to have emotions and should suck it up and be strong - whatever that means. This is only creating more of a problem. Without an outlet to share and discuss emotions men tend to stuff their emotions which can lead to anger outbursts, panic attacks, withdraw from human interaction, and other forms of avoidance. Men need the chance to share emotions too. This will probably look very different from their female friends and that’s okay. It’s just important that they have a safe place to share in their own way.

Some Things to Consider:

1. If you’re a man, how could you being to normalize conversations surrounding emotions with your other male friends? Could you practice sharing about your own fear, hurt, sadness, joy etc.?

2. If you’re a woman, how does the way you interact with the men in your life (including younger boys) encourage or discourage them to share their emotions? What are some ways you could change your interaction to promote discussion?