The reputation isn't entirely undeserved: Jack is supportive, sensitive and caring. He's a man who'll vogue with his daughter, or let another man mentor his adopted son so the boy can get the cultural exposure he doesn't get at home. By the time we saw Jack start the drive we were red herring'd into believing was his last night alive, it was entirely feasible to think of him as perfect (which wouldn't be too far off since Jack is a Virgo and they're notorious perfectionists). News flash, though: Jack is not perfect. He is a deeply flawed fellow whose ugly issues have been there for us to see all along.
"I think it's easy for people to find that perfection," Ventimiglia told TVGuide.com in a recent interview, "because he's not around. There's this respect that comes in death. I've always been interested in the flaws of him even though they might not be the most apparent." Scratching your head? Let's dig a little deeper.
Jack is a great parent. But spouse? Not so much.
We can agree that Jack is a really good Dad; he dotes on his children and smothers them with love. Which is awesome. But think some more about that parenting style and how it affects his marriage. He's the definition of the familiar "fun Dad" trope, which includes Pollyanna-esque "Everything's fine!" denials that frequently leave Rebecca (Mandy Moore) to play cop, judge and jailer.
Who was the one who figured out Randall's (Sterling K. Brown) need to be around black people by confronting the black parents at the pool in Episode 4? Rebecca. Who tried to enforce boundaries when it became clear teenaged Kevin (Logan Shroyer) was having sex in the house in Episode 15? Rebecca.
And when Rebecca opened her mouth and asked, like an adult, for her husband's support in exploring her singing? Jack, by contrast, pretended he was fine with it, then showed up drunk to her performance and then started a fistfight, and then finally revealed his true annoyance with the situation in a screaming match. Which brings us to...
Jack buries and hides things, and it's unhealthy.
We realized Jack had a problem with alcohol as early as Episode 2 when Rebecca -- a woman with her own aspirations on the verge of going bonkers from being with the kids all day -- basically pleaded with her husband to stop going to the bar every day after work. But the drinking is actually just a symptom of a more complicated issue: Jack's penchant for um, bottling things up rather than dealing with them head on.
Maybe you are the kind of spouse who'd think it was cute if your partner came home and told you they'd bought a new house -- which left Rebecca out of the decision-making process completely -- but a great many of us would be justifiably pissed.
Jack is capable of sinister things.
Above all,let's not forget that Jack was literally about to commit armed robbery before he met Rebecca. We don't yet know what tamed his recklessness, but be sure it didn't just go away.
It's a good bet that in Season 2, Jack's unsavory traits will become more pronounced. It's practically a requirement now, not just to help balance to his near-mythological perception but to give his inevitable death dramatic tension.
As Ventimiglia told TVGuide.com, Jack's flaws "might not be in the front of Jack's book, but... it doesn't mean the ripped pages aren't there." That's why seeing him step up to confront his demons, but tragically run out of time before he gets to slay them, would give his impending death greater weight. After all, nothing makes a man a legendary hero more than almost succeeding at a noble cause.
This Is Us returns this fall on Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.
Additional reporting by Megan Vick.