In the final five minutes of last week’s This Is Us, Randall revealed some horrible news to a stunned Kevin: that (spoiler alert) Kate had miscarried her baby. And in tonight’s episode, we saw firsthand how truly devastating that moment and the aftermath was for Kate and Toby.
“It’s not a comfortable [experience] to talk about, but it’s important because there’s so much shame around it,” Chrissy Metz, who plays Kate on the series, tells us. “One in five women will have a miscarriage, and I’m sure we all know people personally.”
For viewers, Kate’s loss is a personal one—we saw her do everything in her power to ensure a healthy pregnancy for herself and the baby. Metz felt the responsibility as well, which made for a very challenging week of filming. “I would literally go home and not want to talk to anybody,” she says. “It was difficult because you’re crying and all these emotions are right there all the time.”
The result, though, was a beautiful and powerful hour of television that not only reduced us to a blubbering mess (shocker) but helped raise awareness about the physical and emotional toll of pregnancy and the loss of an unborn child. Here, Metz explains more.
Before season two began, creator Dan Fogelman brought in each of the cast to break down their storyline for the year. Did you find out Kate would miscarry the baby the same time you found out she’d be expecting?
Chrissy Metz: Yeah, we found out during the summer [about the miscarriage], and I said, “No! This is going to be so heartbreaking.” Not only to convey, but to have people live through the experience with me and with Kate. But we trust the writers and Dan so much, and I know there is a bigger picture and story about going through something so difficult as a miscarriage. Nobody talks about it. They don’t talk about it on network television, and they don’t talk about it as in depth as we do. That’s so important in the dynamic of how [the aftermath] shapes Rebecca and Kate’s relationship, and Kate and Toby, and how Kate really feels about herself and what it means for the future. So, I realize there was so much more to do that I was hopeful, if that’s the right word. I was excited for the challenge and that hopefully this will bring a lot of discussion about miscarriage.
You and Chris Sullivan (Toby) carry the episode and each scene is extremely painful. How did you process such an emotional workload?
Chrissy: It was challenging, because you have to sit in that space for days on end. On a cellular level, your body doesn’t know the difference between real sadness and the sadness you’re portraying. I would literally go home and not want to talk to anybody. I would take a shower or a bath and just get in bed and listen to music that might shift my mood or meditate to get out of that space because you have to recover for the next day. It was difficult because you’re crying and all these emotions are right there all the time. Chris and I always have a great time on set and are laughing, joking, singing, and dancing in between takes, and I couldn’t really do that. That was a challenge for me, because I have such a great time with him. I literally was in my own space; actually, in Kate and Toby’s bedroom, where I go to just be alone because you can’t really distract yourself from that. It was challenging.
Tell me about the scene where Kate goes to the King Buffet restaurant. We see her fill up her plate, but then she sits down and pushes it away. Did you interpret that to mean that she didn’t want to eat her feelings, or she didn’t want to go backward with all the progress she’s made?
Chrissy: I think it was all of those things. She felt so guilty for being plus-size and being pregnant that she felt that was the reason she lost the baby, which is not the case, necessarily. Many plus-size women have awesome, healthy babies and carry them to term. But because that was sort of always playing in her mind—that she didn’t want to eat because of that, and she didn’t want to fall off the wagon—she had no control over anything else but pushing that plate of food away at that moment. It took a lot for her to even…you see when she recognizes the [restaurant] sign and is like, “OK, this is my comfort.” Then she goes in and she’s like, “No, this isn’t my comfort. This isn’t going to bring the baby back. This is not going to make me happy. It’s going to make everything worse.”
When you numb yourself out on food, you really aren’t dealing with your emotions. I think she’s ahead of that because of the therapy she had at the weight loss camp; she knows this isn’t going to help. It was one of the first times a really traumatic experience happened to her and she didn’t go for food. So it was important for her to show up for herself that way.
The episode makes a point of relaying that Kate’s miscarriage is nothing she could have prevented, which is so important because women often have a tendency to blame themselves. The doctor even says to Kate, “The main thing is, you got pregnant, and most likely, you will be able to again.”
Chrissy: Yeah, that’s a really important note and scene. One in five women will have a miscarriage, and I’m sure we all know people personally. They could not have done anything to prevent it. It’s just nature, and that’s what happens. But it’s so difficult, especially surrounding Kate and her issues with her weight. I’m glad that was explained in that way too, because you could be thin, overweight, tall; it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. We can bring up the conversation and say, “Wow, isn’t that interesting?” Because how do you ever bring up a miscarriage? What do you say, and where do you say it at? It’s just not a comfortable situation to talk about, but it’s important because there is so much shame around it.
The scene where Rebecca visits Kate in the present day is such a welcome moment after so much turmoil. Do you think this will be a major turning point for them heading into the next half of the season?
Chrissy: You know, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nothing can be entirely forgiven overnight, but it definitely sparks forging a healthy relationship and moving in the right direction for them. They were finally vulnerable enough to express true, deep, raw feelings about two really traumatic experiences in their lives, and they never thought they’d have common ground. They never had before. There was so much resentment or pain or sadness throughout their relationship. Kate always felt she was inadequate, and so did Rebecca, in that she never felt she was a good enough mom.
They’ve just been misunderstanding each other. I don’t know if it was Rebecca showing up at Kate’s door, or Kate letting her guard down, or both of their [actions] sort of working together perfectly at the right time, but they were ready and willing to take a step in the right direction for each other and the relationship. I’m so, so glad that it’s moving in that way. No relationship is ever going to be perfect, but it’s definitely cracked open something new for them.
Let’s talk about Toby. Kate lashes out at him and says this happened to her, not him. My first thought was that Toby better stand up for himself. It may not have been a physical thing for him, but it absolutely happened to him, too.
Chrissy: That’s right. That’s right.
Do you think Kate is too hard on the people she loves? And did you have trouble with her in that moment, even though you understand her anger and her sadness?
Chrissy: Well, I think so much of that was projecting. We hurt the ones we love, and we project our feelings onto them. A lot of that was that, as opposed to not understanding how he was really feeling because when you love somebody, you don’t want them to go through any pain. Also, she has never been through this, so she’s feeling sorry for herself and trying to, in a way, minimize his feelings. She felt hers were so much more valid, when they aren’t. Yes, of course, she was physically carrying the baby, but it was so important that he communicated how he felt. Initially, I was like, Ugh, I can understand both sides of the coin. I’m very diplomatic that way. But ultimately I was like, “No, I have to play it in that he doesn’t know [what it’s like].” Yes, it’s grief and sorrow, but he really doesn’t know. And, of course, I was playing it in the way that there’s a hormonal imbalance because her body still thinks it’s pregnant. There’s all that going on, too. But it wasn’t easy. It’s not easy to get angry, though I think it’s very good progression in Kate communicating her feelings, whether they were misdirected or not.
Let’s end this on a lighter note: Why didn’t Kate and Toby get a new shower curtain? Did they really have to pull the old one from the garbage?
Chrissy: I thought the same thing! I said the same thing! I was like, “They can afford a new shower curtain!” But you know what, it was about that shower curtain in particular. Like, getting that one so it could remind them it didn’t break them. It didn’t break their relationship. It only made them stronger, just like Toby rushing out to find that baby bath, only to give it away. That’s what he had control over in that moment, and he wanted to help in any way he could. I think it’s more a symbol of, we get to have this reminder when we’re in the bathroom and we walk by it every day. We see there’s still hope that they did this together. And because it was when she fell in the tub, I think it was more symbolic. But I thought the same thing initially!
I thought, “I just hope they sanitize that before they put it back up!”
Chrissy: I know, right?! Luckily, it was just on top of the garbage and not inside. But, listen, I always think about those things. I ask a lot of questions! In this case, it was more symbolic.